When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was discovered to have fled frozen, outage-plagued Texas for an extended weekend vacation at the Ritz-Carlton Cancún, he first blamed the trip on his daughters, aged 10 and 12. That was bad politics and probably worse parenting, but then someone on his wife's text message chain leaked the messages to The New York Times, showing that she had been trying to round up a group of neighborhood friends to join them in Mexico. They did not get any takers from Houston, but they also didn't vacation alone.
Ted Cruz invited his longtime friend and college roommate, David Panton, to join the family in Mexico — and Panton, who lives in Atlanta, accepted, Axios reported Monday morning. "An aide tells Axios the senator extended the invitation only after the Cruz family planned the vacation last Tuesday" — leaving conspicuously open the possibility that Cruz himself wasn't the driving force behind the vacation.
Cruz has been trying to make amends to Texans for jumping ship on the state — and, apparently, the family dog — in the middle of a very serious crisis. But the consequences also extend to his daughters, who, according to rules posted by their elite Houston private school on Jan. 30, must now quarantine for 7 to 10 days before returning to class, Politico reports. St. John's School won't even let students in quarantine attend virtually. There was already a divide in the school between parents who followed the safety guidelines and those who flouted them, and "Cruz's trip this week wrenched that divide wide open," Politico says.
"You start with the fact that there are people ticked off by those who think they're the VIPs at this school who don't want to be bothered to follow the rules because it infringes on their social life. Then you've got people on top of that who don't like Ted Cruz," one St. John's parent, Victoria Konar, told Politico. "And then you have everyone irritated because they're freezing to death and can't bathe and can't eat and he's going off to the Ritz Carlton in Cancun and lying about it."
A spokesman for Cruz said his "daughters plan to follow the St. John's policy." So, for good or bad, the daughters appear to be getting an extra week off from school. But there is one clear winner from this episode, Axios notes: "Panton stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, while Cruz schlepped home." Peter Weber
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has blamed his tween daughters for the family's international vacation to Mexico, but text messages obtained by The New York Times and Reform Austin News show that his wife, Heidi, was messaging friends and neighbors on Wednesday about heading south of the border amid a harsh winter storm that has left millions of Texans without power and water.
Cruz was spotted at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind cold Houston for warm Cancun. He was swiftly criticized for fleeing the state as millions of his constituents suffered amid brutal conditions, and he returned to Texas on Thursday. During his first attempt to smooth things over, Cruz said his daughters — who are 10 and 12 — "asked to take a trip with friends" and "wanting to be a good dad," he agreed to take them to Cancun.
The text messages obtained by the Times show Heidi Cruz messaged friends and neighbors to say her house did not have electricity and was "FREEZING." The family was staying with friends, she added, before asking: "Anyone can or want to leave for the week? We may go to Cancun." Cruz said they could stay at the Ritz-Carlton, leaving that afternoon and coming back on Sunday. No one showed any interest in joining Ted Cruz on vacation, so Heidi Cruz offered up her home's gas stove in case anyone needed to heat water.
The Houston Police Department confirmed with the Times that someone from the senator's office called and asked for officers to provide "assistance upon arrival" Wednesday at the airport, and law enforcement was also spotted with Cruz when he returned to Houston on Thursday. Back in the U.S., Cruz offered a new statement, telling reporters it was "obviously a mistake" to go to Cancun and claiming he had "second thoughts" as soon as he got on the plane. His daughters, he said, had "a tough week," and "all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our kids, take care of our families, but I also have a responsibility that I take very seriously of fighting for the state of Texas." Catherine Garcia