Donald Trump Jr and other conservatives defend Ted Cruz after he flew to Cancun amid Texas storm

Republican allies come out swinging — by suggesting senators ‘don’t do a whole lot’ in their positions during local disasters

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 19 February 2021 08:48 GMT
Related Video: Cancun trip was “obviously a mistake", says Ted Cruz
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Texas senator Ted Cruz faced widespread criticism after flying to Cancun amid a deadly winter storm in his home state which left millions without heat or power - but some prominent conservatives have jumped to his defense.

They claimed that, as senator, Mr Cruz could only play a minimal role in aiding his own constituents while the historic storm devastated Texas and sent local officials scrambling following the failure of the state power grid. At least 21 people have been reported dead as a result of the freezing temperatures and severe conditions.

After various news outlets revealed Mr Cruz had left the country, Dinesh D’Souza, a right-wing political commentator and conservative provocateur, wrote in a tweet: “The simple truth is that Senators don’t do a whole lot other than VOTE. The rest of it is mainly fundraising, posturing, photo ops, etc.”

He added: “Some people think it looks bad for @tedcruz to be in Cancun, but in the end does everything come down to ‘looks,’ ie appearances?”

Mr Cruz received widespread condemnation for departing Texas as it grappled with the worsening crisis. Meanwhile, his office did not respond to numerous requests for comment from reporters across various agencies for several hours. 

In fact, the senator did not confirm he had actually even left the state until the Houston Police Department told several reporters they provided Mr Cruz with assistance while he traveled through the airport on Wednesday. 

The department said the senator’s office “contacted HPD personnel at IAH on Wednesday ... and requested assistance upon the Senator’s arrival at the airport.”

While it’s not exactly uncommon for a prominent lawmaker or political figure to request local police assistance while moving through a major transit hub, the issue stirred controversy as many critics of the senator noted he was using police services to fly to Mexico while others were trying to report power outages and medical ailments spurred by the storm. 

Donald Trump Jr came to Mr Cruz’s defense, writing in a post that there is a difference between a governor and senator “in terms of job description and what they can do” in the case of a local disaster. 

He added: “Optics is one thing but let’s be real here.”

Mike Cernovich, another right-wing internet commentator, also appeared to defend Mr Cruz on Twitter, writing: “There’s a difference between a government official violating lockdown rules he or she voted for and a guy taking a vacation. Folks, this isn’t hard.”

The issue of staying close to home during a crisis is an important one for many politicians, including former President Donald Trump, who often claimed without evidence that he helped out at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. There has been no evidence to support those claims. 

Mr Cruz was forced to release a statement on Thursday afternoon as it became abundantly clear he had left the state with his family for a trip to the coastal city on the Caribbean sea. 

“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” he began. “Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.”

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” he said. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

He added: “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas … My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”

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