ORLANDO, Fla. — "I gotta say Orlando is awesome! It's not as nice as Cancun, but it's nice."
Those are the words Texas Sen. Ted Cruz chose to open his CPAC appearance after facing criticism for flying to Cancun while his home state suffered through a deadly winter storm.
Cruz was at the annual gathering of conservatives to discuss the Bill of Rights, liberty and cancel culture – a topic he may be all too familiar with right now.
When delivering the remark, Cruz paused for audience reaction while he smiled and chuckled. It was the first and only mention he made of the incident during his speech.
Criticism mounted against Cruz on Feb. 18 when news broke that he headed to Mexico with his family. The senator said his daughters were his reason for leaving Texas while people who lived there experienced an "infuriating week" of power outages and no running water.
"With school cancelled 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 wrote in a statement, at the time.
He added that he and his staff were in constant communication with state and local leaders to "get to the bottom of what happened in Texas."
Cruz returned home later in the day and said his trip was "obviously a mistake." Our sister station KHOU-TV reports it confirmed the senator was originally scheduled to return that weekend with his family before deciding to cut the trip short.
In the aftermath, United Airlines said it will be investigating how Cruz's flight information was leaked to the public, according to multiple reports.
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