America’s political division was exposed Friday when Joe Biden flew to Texas to comfort the victims of a deadly winter storm as Ted Cruz, a senator from the troubled state, basked in the Florida sunshine and joked about his recent vacation in Mexico. .
The president of the United States, who made empathy the core of his election campaign, and the first lady, Jill Biden, traveled to Houston for their first trip to a major disaster site since taking office on January 20.
At least 40 people in Texas died as a result of severe winter weather that caused widespread power outages and frozen pipes that exploded and flooded homes.
Biden’s first stop was an emergency operations center for a briefing by Bob Fenton, acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), and state and local emergency management officials.
The president thanked the workers for doing what he called “God’s work.” He also joined Jill Biden at a food bank.
Later, speaking at a Fema vaccination site, Biden said, “We are not here today as Democrats or Republicans. We are here today as Americans … When a crisis hits our states, like the one that hit Texas … it is our fellow Americans who are suffering and it is our job to help all those in need. Take care of each other. Leave no one behind. “
Consequently, Biden had previously been accompanied by Governor Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn, both Republicans. But Cruz, the state’s other Republican senator, was instead enjoying a 27 ° C temperature in Orlando, Florida, and received applause from the largest annual gathering of grassroots conservatives, where former President Donald Trump is the keynote speaker on Sunday. .
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cruz made light of a controversy last week in which he flew to Cancun, Mexico, for a family vacation, even as millions of Texans were shaking in homes without heating. “Orlando is incredible,” Cruz said. “It’s not as pretty as Cancun, but it’s pretty!”
The crowd laughed at the joke. Cruz criticized the “culture of cancellation,” the coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, and condemned Democrats in general as the “far-left” “strident” and “angry” politics.
“Bernie [Sanders] wears gloves and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] she’s telling us she was ‘murdered.’ “Cruz mocked the Democratic congresswoman who said she feared for her life during the insurrection on the US Capitol on January 6.
He continued: “And the media wants desperately, desperately, desperately to see a republican civil war. Freedom is under attack and what are we going to do? I’ll tell you, we’ll fight. “
Cruz was applauded when he issued a warning to members of his own party that they want to “erase the last four years” and banish Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement. “Let me tell you this right now: Donald J. Trump is not going anywhere,” he said.
Cruz and his fellow Republican Josh Hawley were among the most prominent senators who voted to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election. An unrepentant Hawley earned enthusiastic applause as he recounted that episode.
“On January 6, I objected during the electoral college certification, maybe he found out,” the Missouri senator said. “I said that we should have a debate on the integrity of the elections. I said that the people have a right to be heard and my constituents in Missouri want to be heard on this issue. “
The senator continued: “They called me a traitor. They called me a seditionist. “
Hawley said the “radical left” had said he should be ousted from the Senate if he did not resign.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here. I’m going to defend them because if we can’t have a free and open debate in this country, we won’t have a country left,” he said.
Cruz and Hawley face a Senate ethics committee investigation into their conduct prior to the insurrection. They and others at CPAC have perpetuated the lie of a stolen election despite officials saying it was the safest election in American history.
CPAC also listened to the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, who warned the Republican Party not to turn back the clock. “If there’s one thing the Republican Party has been really good at over the past two decades, it’s snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” he said. “They gave in to all the special interests, they gave in to corporate America, they gave in and bowed to the radical left that hates their guts.”
The combative Trump Jr reserved some of his picks for Joe Biden, telling CPAC: “The first 30 days have been a disaster. All the lies that the media said would not happen are happening. But hey, at least they have a diverse cabinet! “
On Sunday, Trump, 74, is expected to raise the possibility of running for president again in 2024, a prospect that complicates the lives of other hopefuls, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who declined an invitation to the CPAC, and Mike Pompeo, former secretary. of the state, due to speak on Saturday.
There was clear proof of Trump’s continued dominance over the Republican party when a golden statue of him was spotted at CPAC. The kitsch monument is larger than life, featuring a gold head and Trump’s signature suit jacket with white shirt and red tie. Interestingly, the disgraced former commander-in-chief also appears to be holding a star wand and stars and stripes athletic shorts.
Attendees can purchase $ 2 bumper stickers that say “Trump is my president”, “Biden is not my president”, “Trump 2024” and a photo of the 45th president with the question “Do you miss me yet?” One T-shirt has a picture of Trump with the slogan “Undefeated Impeachment Champion”; another shows Biden with an Adolf Hitler-style mustache and the words “He’s not my dictator.”
CPAC moved from its usual location in Maryland to Florida due to coronavirus security restrictions. Organizers called for attendees to wear face masks, only to get boos and boos. A television reporter who entered the scene estimated that only about 60% of the people wore masks correctly.