An emerging political scandal surrounding Ted Cruz’s alleged vacation plans hit the Internet amid the aftermath of winter storm Uri, which has left millions of Texans without electricity or running water for days.
On Wednesday night, political Twitter was obsessed with unconfirmed reports that the Texas senator had flown to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation – reports confirmed Thursday morning by Fox News and other outlets.
The look of a Texas senator flying into a sunny resort while his constituents are exposed to unploughed roads, power outages, burst pipes, and food shortages are not particularly good to say the least.
A Twitter user named Juan Gomez aroused curiosity about Cruz’s whereabouts just before 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday when he posted a photo of a man who appeared to be Cruz, waiting to board a plane at an airport above the headline: “Well, Senator Cruz is flying to Cancun while millions of Texans have no electricity. “
This unconfirmed tweet quickly went viral, and other unconfirmed photos of fellow travelers soon began surfacing.
It wasn’t long before internet pundits found out that the man who appeared to be Cruz appeared to be traveling with his wife Heidi (circled in the picture below) and their children. Others noted the man was wearing the same mask and ring that Cruz photographed at the Capitol.
When people went to bed on Wednesday night, social media reports about Cruz went unconfirmed. Many noted that Cruz, a prolific and combative Twitter user, was silent on the radio and his office didn’t respond to requests for comment – evidence that something was wrong, but still not enough to be sure the photos were real.
A journalist named David Shuster posted a tweet claiming that he had “confirmed” that Cruz and his family “flew to Cancun for a few days tonight at a resort they had previously visited,” but as He was asked by other reporters to detail his source, Shuster, I have just spoken of “several eyewitnesses”.
Still, people had jokes …
… while others pointed to the horrific look of a US senator vacationing in Mexico while his constituents struggle to survive.
While millions in Texas have no working heat or water because of a heavy snow storm, Ted Cruz flies to Cancun for fun. You just can’t make this shit up.
– Charlotte Clymer @ (@cmclymer) February 18, 2021
On Thursday morning, Fox News’ Chad Pergram became the first reporter from a major outlet to confirm the story, quoting colleague Paul Steinhauser and a GOP source as saying, “The photos speak for themselves.” and didn’t even mention them on Thursday morning.)
Colleague Paul Steinhauser confirms that GOP TX Sen Ted Cruz traveled to Cancun amid the TX storm / power outage. GOP source: “The photos speak for themselves”
– Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 18, 2021
The Associated Press and ABC later also confirmed the story. Houston police told ABC that Cruz staff asked for a police presence “upon the senator’s arrival at the airport” on Wednesday.
Politico’s Jake Sherman tweeted that Cruz is on the upgrade list for a Thursday flight from Cancun to Houston, suggesting he may cut his trip amid the firestorm. (Before Fox News confirmed the story, those in charge found Cruz was on the upgrade list for a Wednesday flight from Houston to Cancun.)
Here is the upgrade list for today’s flight from Cancun to Houston.
Looks like @tedcruz is on his way back, @danpfeiffer. He barely misses the upgrade list
That assumes that “cru, r” is him. And I do. pic.twitter.com/CqfKa5rJfG
– Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 18, 2021
Skift’s Edward Russell, citing a United Airlines source, reported that Cruz was originally scheduled to return to Houston from Mexico on Saturday but rebooked his flight Thursday morning. Cruz was photographed checking in for his flight back to Texas on Thursday.
Cruz’s office had still not commented when Thursday morning ended, though there were signs that he was trying to spin the scandal by claiming Cruz had just flown to Mexico to accompany his family.
In fact, CNN’s Betsy Klein posted a statement from Cruz early Thursday afternoon saying he had just flown to Mexico because he wanted to be “a good father” to his daughters, who “asked to go out with friends “because the school was” canceled for the week “because of the natural disaster.
Shortly before his flight back to Texas, Cruz offered remarks to reporters at the Mexico airport, repeating the topics from his office’s statement.
Senator Ted Cruz at Cancun Airport:
“Yesterday my daughters asked if they could go on a trip with some friends and Heidi and I agreed, so I flew them down with them last night, dropped them off here, and now I’m going back to Texas.” pic.twitter.com/5d8UwlmZWv
– The recount (@therecount) February 18, 2021
It should be noted that the U.S. Senate is on hiatus this week while Cruz’s state is in crisis. A Dallas resident wrote the Dallas Morning News defending Cruz on the basis. He found that the Senate is out, he can afford it. … What exactly is the problem? “(Other right-wing pundits similarly defended Cruz.)
But there are still things Cruz could do to help even when the Senate is not in session. For example, the Democrat he defeated in 2018 to keep his Senate seat, Beto O’Rourke, said he made more than 151,000 calls to seniors in Texas on Wednesday alone, asking for help to do more on Thursday.
We made over 151,000 calls to seniors in Texas tonight. One of our volumes spoke to a man who was stranded at home in Killeen with no electricity, had not eaten in two days, and took him to a warming center and a hot meal. Help us reach more people and join us tomorrow: https://t.co/WOLn2HCrm1
– Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) February 18, 2021
Cruz’s flight to Cancun came the day after he posted a tweet confirming the criticism he received for his 2019 tweets when he mocked California when heat waves caused power outages there.
“Stay safe!” Cruz wrote.
And during a radio interview on Monday, Cruz urged voters to do the exact opposite of what he did.
“We saw 100 people lose their lives in Texas this week,” said Cruz. “So don’t risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids. “
Meanwhile, Twitter users surfaced in tweets Cruz posted less than three months ago when he attacked a Democratic politician for traveling to Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic while telling his constituents to stay home stay. Not only is Cruz guilty of exactly that, but his trip to Mexico – as it is while millions of his constituents are in dire need of help – is perhaps worse.