Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico, with his family for a trip this week as Texas faces the aftermath of a winter storm that left millions without power. An airline industry source familiar with the situation told CBS News that the Republican senator was scheduled to fly home on Saturday, but changed his reservation and flew home Thursday afternoon.
Photos of Cruz arriving at the airport for the trip went viral on social media, drawing criticism of the senator for leaving during the crisis. Cruz said Thursday that she wanted to accompany her children who were going on a trip with friends.
“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good father, I flew with them last night and will be back this afternoon,” Cruz said in a statement.
However, a source with knowledge of the trip said that Cruz and his family were originally booked to return to Houston on Saturday, but changed the reservation Thursday morning. Cruz returned to Houston on Thursday afternoon. His wife and children will return on Saturday as planned, the source said.
Early Thursday, Cruz said he has been in “constant communication” with local leaders “to get to the bottom” of the power grid failure in Texas. “The largest state in the largest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping in neighbors’ houses. Our houses are freezing and our lights are off. Like millions of Texans, our family I lost heat and energy too. “
At least 34 deaths were attributed to the storm, 20 of the victims were from Texas. Widespread blackouts left more than 3 million without power this week, although most had been restored. More than 350,000 residents were still without power as of Thursday afternoon.
Some of Cruz’s political opponents have asked him to resign.
“Ted Cruz’s flight to Mexico as Texans continue to die in the cold is not surprising, but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “We are in a battle for the soul of our state. We must restore ethics, competition and a government that works for the people.”
Justin Carissimo and Alan He contributed to this report.