Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz found himself in turmoil Thursday for flying to the Mexican resort town of Cancun as his state struggled with a deadly cold spell.
• Read also: Cold still disrupts the United States, storm expected in the northeast
The senator flew to Cancun with his family on Wednesday, leaving his constituents behind in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Faced with the avalanche of criticism, he cut his stay short.
The controversy began when photos circulated showing him at the Houston airport, then on a plane to the famous tropical tourist destination, located on the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.
- Listen to international political columnist Loïc Tassé with Benoit Dutrizac on QUB Radio:
In a statement, the senator explained that because school was canceled for the week, his daughters had expressed a wish to travel with friends.
“Wanting to be a good father, I flew with them last night,” he said.
“I am, like my team, in constant contact with local officials to determine what happened in Texas,” he continued, referring to the power cuts that hit the state.
A few hours later, he admitted that it was “obviously a mistake”. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it,” he added.
In a radio interview on Monday, Cruz warned residents of his state of serious weather disturbances to come, stressing that they could cause many victims.
“Do not take any risk. Make sure your family is safe, don’t leave your home and take care of your children, ”he said.
- Listen to the column of Guillaume Lavoie, specialist in American politics
More than 300,000 homes were still without electricity Thursday in Texas where polar temperatures caused a spectacular surge in electricity consumption.
With many water treatment plants paralyzed, more than 10 million Texans suffered a supply problem and a majority of them were forced to boil their water to make it drinkable.
Across the United States, the storm claimed the lives of at least 30 people.
The one who had for a time been given the mocking nickname of “Lyin ‘Ted” (“Ted the liar”) by Donald Trump was quickly given a new nickname on Twitter: “Flyin’ Ted” (“Flying Ted”) .
Candidate during the Republican primary for the White House in 2016, Ted Cruz is regularly cited as a possible candidate of the “Grand Old Party” in 2024.
First elected to the Senate in 2012, he was narrowly reelected in 2018 against Beto O’Rourke, then a rising figure in the Democratic Party.
Gilberto Hinojosa, president of the Democratic Party in Texas, called on the senator to step down.
“For Ted Cruz to fly to Mexico while the Texans die in the cold is not surprising but is deeply disturbing,” he wrote, lamenting that he is “abandoning” his state.
Asked during her daily press briefing on the Republican senator’s getaway to the sun, Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the White House, wielded irony.
“I have no details to give you on the exact location of Ted Cruz,” she replied. “We are focusing on mobilization in the face of this winter storm”.
Comedian Trevor Noah, who hosts the Daily Show, told him on Twitter a “heartbreaking” scene: “An inhabitant of Texas forced to travel more than 2,700 kilometers to find water, electricity and heat.”