U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) carries his luggage at Cancun International Airport before boarding his plane back to the United States in Cancun, Mexico on February 18, 2021.
Stringer | Reuters
Will Senator Ted Cruz be known as "Flyin 'Ted" now?
Cruz sparked widespread outrage on Thursday for flying from Houston to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation, despite millions of his Texans froze from historically low temperatures and widespread power outages.
After hours of unresponsive to media requests for comment on his trip on Wednesday, his spokespeople issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying he took the trip because his two teenage daughters asked him to.
"Our houses are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family has lost heat and electricity," said Cruz, who also found that he would fly home on Thursday.
Images allegedly showing Ted Cruz aboard a United Airlines flight from Houston, TX to Cancun, Mexico.
Source: @Ian McBride via Twitter
Thousands of Twitter posts blew Cruz up for the out of date outing after photos of him were posted online at a Houston airport, waiting to board the flight Wednesday afternoon, and then on board the plane.
On Thursday, other pictures showed someone with the Republican's last name and the first initial of his legal first name – Rafael – standing by for a United Airlines flight from Cancun back to Houston. This flight is scheduled to start on Thursday afternoon.
At the time, the temperature in Houston was only 34 degrees Fahrenheit – 50 degrees colder than Cancun.
Shortly before his flight home, one photo showed Cruz rolling a suitcase through Cancun airport wearing a mask with the flag of Texas on it.
Cruz got out of a car at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cancun with a man at the airport. This man escorted Cruz through the airport.
The Ritz-Carlton website states it is "a five-star oceanfront retreat in the heart of Cancun".
"Perfectly located on the Yucatan Peninsula, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun seamlessly blends coastal luxury with the region's rich cultural heritage," reads the place. "Immerse yourself in sensory experiences ranging from cooking classes to poolside mixology classes. This five-star hotel also features iconic restaurants, native spa rituals and a 27,000 square foot conference center."
"Soak up the sun on Mexico's best beach," says the website.
Hotel Ritz Carlton, Cancun
Peter Bischoff | Getty Images
Cruz did not talk about his hotel in his testimony.
Instead, he said, "This has been an angry week for Texans. The largest state in the largest country in the world has been without electricity. We have food pipes, gas pipes and people sleeping in neighbors' houses," Cruz said in his testimony.
"Since school was canceled for that week, our girls asked for a trip with friends. Since I wanted to be a good father, I flew with them last night and I'm flying back this afternoon," wrote Cruz.
The senators' daughters are 12 and 10 years old.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to the media at Cancun International Airport before boarding his plane back to the United States in Cancun, Mexico on February 18, 2021.
Stringer | Reuters
Two days before the trip, Cruz retweeted a post from the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying, "Are you looking for a place to stay warm in this freezing weather?" The post included links to heat centers in Texas.
A source close to Cruz said the senator took a Covid-19 test under federal health guidelines and received a negative result before his scheduled return flight to the United States.
"My co-workers and I are in constant communication with state and local executives to investigate what is going on in Texas," said Cruz.
"We want our electricity back, our water and our homes warm. My team and I will continue to use all of our resources to keep Texans up to date and safe."
Images allegedly showing Ted Cruz with Heidi Cruz (circled) on board a United Airlines flight from Houston, TX to Cancun, Mexico.
Source: @Ian McBride via Twitter
A Houston Police Department spokesman told NBC News that Cruz staff asked the department on Wednesday afternoon to assist Cruz with his arrival and movements through George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where a scheduled flight was at 4:44 p.m. Local time to Cancun.
Images posted on social media show a woman who appears to be Cruz & # 39; wife Heidi with him at this airport on Wednesday.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the mask Cruz saw from the airport is the same mask that Cruz used when President Joe Biden was inaugurated last month and during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate last week has worn.
The mask features the image of a black cannon and the words "Come and Take It," a design reminiscent of flags Texans used during the 1835 revolution against Mexico – a provocative choice given the target, "the newspaper said.
The Texas Democratic Party urged Cruz to resign or be expelled from office in light of the apparent trip.
"In the middle of one of the worst crises in Texas history, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico. His constituents in Texas remain trapped in the cold with no clean water, heat, or hot food. 37 of them have died, "the party said in a statement.
"This is what we expected the Texas Republican leadership to do. They are self-serving, incompetent, corrupt politicians who believe that in office they are entitled to do what they want."
Jen Psaki, White Houses press secretary, was asked about Cruz by reporters on Thursday and made a sharp bang on him.
"I have no information on the exact location of Senator Ted Cruz or anyone in the White House, but our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas and the surrounding states in dealing with the winter storm and the crisis in hand," said Psaki.
"We anticipate that this will be the focus of anyone in the state or surrounding states elected to represent them," she added.
Former MP Beto O & # 39; Rourke, a Democrat who lost a narrow Senate election to Cruz in 2018, beat him up during an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday.
Cruz "is on vacation in Cancun as the people of the state he was elected to represent and serve are literally freezing to death," said O & # 39; Rourke, who campaigned for the Democratic President's nomination in 2019.
Julian Castro, former San Antonio mayor who served as secretary for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted, "In crises like this, Congressmen play a vital role in connecting their constituents to emergency services and aid. "
Cruz "should be on the phone with federal agencies, not on a trip to Mexico," Castro wrote.
Ted Cruz on standby for a United Airlines flight
Source: United Airlines
On Tuesday, Cruz was toasted on Twitter and elsewhere for making fun of California's blackouts months ago.
In response, Cruz tweeted that day, "I have no defense. A blizzard hits Texas and our state is closed. Not good."
In December, Cruz criticized Democratic officials for failing to adhere to their own restrictions on coronavirus pandemics, including Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas, who himself flew to Mexico for his daughter's wedding in November despite urging residents of his city to stay at home.
"Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites," wrote Cruz in his December 2 tweet.
Photos of Cruz without a mask on an American Airlines flight and at an airport gate were widely reported in July.
The person who took the photos and worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaigns Committee noted that American Airlines guidelines require travelers to wear face covers.
Cruz's spokeswoman at the time claimed that Cruz temporarily removed his mask to have coffee.
While taking on Cruz in the 2016 Republican nomination contests, Trump regularly used the contemptuous nickname "Lyin 'Ted" when talking about him.
Cruz later became a passionate Trump supporter and tried unsuccessfully last month to get Congress to reject confirmation of Biden's victories on electoral college in several states.
That verification process was interrupted on January 6th by the invasion of the Capitol complex by thousands of Trump supporters. Five people, including a Capitol Police Office, died as a result of the uprising.
– CNBCs Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.