Cruz defends flying to Cancun amid Texas power outages

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump's Texas endorsement boosts a scandal-plagued incumbent while imperiling a political dynasty Trio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia MORE (R-Texas) on Thursday confirmed he flew to Mexico with family members Wednesday evening, responding for the first time to widespread backlash in his home state that's been battered by a severe winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement shared with The Hill that he accompanied his daughters on a flight to Mexico since they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” Cruz said, he decided to fly “with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

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“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” he said, adding “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,” he added.

“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” he continued. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”

Cruz’s statement marks his first acknowledgement of his trip after photos began circulating on social media Wednesday showing the Texas senator at an airport and boarding a flight to Cancun with his family.

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Both Fox News and The Associated Press confirmed on Thursday that Cruz traveled to Cancun, and former MSNBC anchor David Shuster tweeted that he had confirmed Cruz's presence on the flight.

Cruz's statement did not mention earlier details the Houston Police Department gave to NBC confirming that they were contacted by Cruz's staff on Wednesday about providing assistance at Houston's international airport.

A police department spokesperson told NBC, “They reached out to us, let us know that he was going to be arriving and could we assist, so upon his arrival to the Houston airport we monitored his movements."

At least 36 people have died amid the unusual winter storm hitting Texas and other southern states this week, with millions still facing power outages, snow and freezing temperatures.

The reports on Cruz’s trip came shortly after social media users highlighted numerous tweets from Cruz and other Texas lawmakers mocking earlier power outages in California.

Cruz conceded Tuesday that he had “no defense” for his previous tweets adding, “A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.”

In a Thursday interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D) called for Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to provide “a better explanation” of how to prevent similar energy infrastructure failures in the state going forward.

“The truth is that right now we’re just trying to keep people alive and safe for the next two days, so that’s where all of our focus is,” Adler said.

Updated at 2:12 p.m.