Ted Cruz's trip to Mexico earned him widespread criticism. Will it matter for his political future?

Written by on February 19, 2021

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Republican Senator Ted Cruz referred to as his journey to Mexico “a mistake” following a flurry of criticism as his state faces a serious winter storm disaster. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – It is no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz has his eye on running for president again

The Texas Republican, some of the conservative members of the Senate, has been a loyal advocate for former President Donald Trump and has tried to place himself because the rightful inheritor to his base. 

However Cruz’s ambitions may very well be sophisticated after flying to Mexico as his home state of Texas was weathering the aftermath of a deadly winter storm that left thousands and thousands with out energy and operating water in freezing temperatures. 

“Pure disasters have a method of upending politicians” careers,” stated Republican strategist Alex Conant, who pointed to examples together with President George Bush throughout Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “For politicians, the primary rule of any pure catastrophe is to indicate up and Cruz broke that rule.”

About 180,000 clients in Texas had been nonetheless with out energy Friday, a quantity that is gone down considerably from the four million who had been at the hours of darkness earlier this week. Issues with accessing clear ingesting water have endured after pipes burst within the frigid temperatures. 

Extra: Sen. Ted Cruz calls Mexico trip amid Texas winter crisis and power outages ‘a mistake’

Extra: Ted Cruz escaped to Cancun during a crippling Texas storm in a pandemic, and travelers have so many questions

Cruz’s getaway lasted lower than a day

Footage of Cruz touring began circulating Wednesday night time, instantly drawing the ire of his Democratic critics as many Texans remained with out energy in constructions not designed to face up to the winter’s chilly.

After returning to Texas the following day, Cruz referred to as the journey “a mistake” and stated he was simply attempting to be a great father and husband.

Standing outdoors his dwelling in Houston Thursday night, with the chants of protesters audible, Cruz stated his authentic intention was to remain in Cancun by way of the weekend along with his daughters and spouse. His daughters had requested a visit someplace heat after they misplaced energy and faculty was cancelled, he stated.

“In hindsight, I would not have carried out it,” Cruz stated, including it had been his “intention to work remotely,” but it surely grew to become “extra compelling” for him to return as controversy grew concerning the journey.

Cruz’s workplace didn’t reply to questions on whether or not the senator would be quarantining after the journey or whether or not he had obtained the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was provided late final yr to members of Congress amid continuation of presidency efforts. Cruz stated on the time he wouldn’t instantly take it in hopes of getting it first to seniors and others in want. 

The CDC recommends getting examined for COVID-19 three to 5 days after touring and staying dwelling for seven days and quarantining even if you happen to check destructive after journey.

Will the journey influence his future?

Conant, like different political watchers, stated it is unclear whether or not the fallout from the journey will proceed to comply with Cruz. He famous Cruz’s fast apology and hitting the difficulty head-on may assist put the story shortly to relaxation. 

“I feel he made a giant mistake however did a great job of placing it behind him as shortly as he may,” he stated. 

Cruz narrowly gained his reelection in 2018 in opposition to Beto O’Rourke. As Cruz traveled, his former opponent coordinated a telephone financial institution to contact seniors throughout the state and join them to cold-weather sources. 

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Carlos Algara, a political science professor on the College of Texas in El Paso, stated Cruz’s actions when he returned dwelling point out how damaging this journey may very well be for his political future. 

Cruz returned to Texas inside 12 hours of leaving. He spoke to each native and nationwide media retailers and provided a frank apology. 

“If he thought this wasn’t a giant deal, he would not have bent over backwards,” Algara stated. “The wave of unhealthy press compelled him to do one thing that Senator Cruz not often does: He got here out and provided a mea culpa.” 

Algara added the flub highlighted on of Cruz’s biggest political liabilities: His character and talent to be empathetic.

“He has severe branding points,” Algara stated. “If he runs for president, you may be positive this may come up. His opponents are undoubtedly salivating on the considered utilizing these photos of Cruz on the airport in assault adverts.” 

Political consultants throughout Texas acknowledged that Cruz’s fast apology may quell the scandal within the brief time period, but it surely’s positive to comply with him within the leadup to 2024, when he’s up for re-election within the Senate or if he enters the Republican main for president. 

Stephen Amberg, a political science professor on the College of Texas at San Antonio, stated Cruz is not recognized for his legislating however slightly as a soldier within the conservative motion, particularly underneath former President Donald Trump. 

“He is a tradition warrior,” Amberg stated, explaining that the journey may damage his model however may maintain deeper ramifications statewide within the Republican Occasion, which has managed Texas for many years. “The Republican Occasion as an entire shouldn’t be going to have the ability to escape this scathing criticism.” 

What’s Cruz’s position in a catastrophe?

Some Republicans got here to Cruz’s protection as critics piled on. They argued he wasn’t the state’s governor and wasn’t charged with coordinating the catastrophe response. 

Donald Trump Jr., the previous president’s eldest son, wrote on Twitter that there is a “distinction between a Governor and a Senator when it comes to job description and what they’ll do for localized disasters. Optics is one factor however let’s be actual right here.”

In pure disasters like what is going on in Texas, governors usually lead the response and coordinate with federal businesses to get assist to these in want.

However, like several elected official, senators can play a key position in placing strain on officers to shortly assist constituents. These with nationwide prominence, like Cruz, may be an essential voice. 

Conant, who labored for Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential marketing campaign, agreed that senators do not lead the response however constituents anticipate to see their leaders serving to throughout a disaster, not leaving them behind.

“Senators carry weight. They’ll get a cupboard official on the telephone or the FEMA director or different White Home officers on a name,” Conant stated. “They’ve the flexibility to shed mild and lift alarms in a method that governors and congressmen can’t at all times do.” 

As Cruz left the state, different elected leaders in Texas rallied to assist constituents, portray an optics drawback for the junior senator.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, led a letter to the primary electrical energy firm within the state demanding solutions. He despatched out a flurry of tweets over a number of days, providing addresses to shelters and meals pantries and even went to a local school to ensure he had internet access to take part in a Home Vitality and Commerce committee listening to, the place he once more demanded solutions for the facility outages in his state. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, helped load donated water bottles into vehicles in Houston. New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even pitched in. She launched a fundraiser that raised greater than $2 million and stated she was flying to Texas to assist distribute provides. 

Algara stated the argument that Cruz has no position in a catastrophe is “thoughts bogglingly ridiculous.” 

He famous employees usually are on the telephone with constituents, serving to direct them to assist, whereas senators normally are on the telephone advocating for areas which have been onerous hit and getting solutions on provides and different assist are.  

“There’s loads senators do behind the scenes,” stated Algara, who beforehand labored on Capitol Hill as a fellow. “They do not coordinate a response however they’re liaisons between states and the federal authorities.” 

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

Learn or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/information/politics/2021/02/19/ted-cruz-mexico-trip-draws-criticism-but-hurt-him-politically/4506496001/


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