Ted Cruz says he went to Cancun during Texas crisis because he wanted to be a “good dad”

Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico, with his family for a trip this week as Texas deals with the aftermath of a winter storm that left millions without power, an airline industry source familiar with the situation told CBS News. The source said the Republican senator was scheduled to fly home 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, sparking criticism of the senator for leaving during the crisis. Cruz on Thursday said he wanted to escort his children who were leaving for a trip with friends.

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

However, a source with knowledge of the trip said Cruz and his family were originally booked to return to Houston on Saturday but changed the reservation Thursday morning. Cruz ultimately returned to Houston on Thursday afternoon. His wife and children will return Saturday as planned, the source said.

Earlier 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 greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors’ houses. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too.”

At least 34 deaths were attributed to the storm, 20 of the victims were from Texas. Widespread outages left over 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 called on him to resign. 

“Ted Cruz jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold isn’t surprising but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “We are in a battle for the soul of our state. We must restore ethics, competence, and a government that works for the people.”

Justin Carissimo and Alan He contributed to this report. 

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