Fresh from a trip to a Mexican beach resort, Texas Senator Ted Cruz appeared keen to show he was helping others during the statewide emergency that he—temporarily—left behind this week.
The Republican lawmaker has been under fire over his decision to fly to Cancun as a winter storm—and a creaking power grid—left millions without electricity and latterly without drinking water throughout the state.
Two days after he admitted his "mistake" and flew home, new pictures of Cruz were posted on his official Twitter account.
In them, Cruz—sleeves rolled-up and wearing a Texas flag mask—was handing out bottles of water to those in need. The photos came captioned "#TexasStrong."
But some commentators suggested Cruz's gesture appeared somewhat hollow.
Writer Melissa Ryan, a former digital strategist for Democratic campaigns, accused Cruz of showing "fake compassion."
"I'm glad someone in Ted Cruz's Senate office finally instructed him on how to fake compassion, humanity, and creating the illusion that he cares about the people he was elected to serve," she wrote.
Lawyer Bradley Moss, suggested Cruz would still rather be in Cancun.
CNN analyst Jessica Huseman noted official guidelines on returning from a trip abroad. "Stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
While TV personality Keith Olbermann quipped: "I assume you're taking these waters."
Democrats have also been keen to promote their own efforts via social media.
Beto O'Rourke, who narrowly lost to Cruz in their 2018 race for the Senate, has been helping organize emergency supplies and check-in calls with residents.
"Charity isn't a replacement for good governance," AOC tweeted earlier this week. "But we won't turn away from helping people in need when things hit the fan."
Cruz said on Friday that the Mexico trip was "obviously a mistake," and that he had been accompanying his daughters on a vacation with their friends.
In a later sympathetic interview with Fox News' Hannity, Cruz was asked about the "quick drop-off trip" to Mexico.
"I'd initially planned to stay through weekend and to work remotely there," Cruz said.
"But as I was heading down there, you know, I started to have second thoughts almost immediately, because the crisis here in Texas, you need to be here on the ground.
"And as much as you can do by phone and by Zoom it's not the same as being here."
Power has been restored to most Texas homes affected by the power outages, however, nearly half of the state's population are still under boil water notices.