Matt Gaetz Defends Ted Cruz Amid Cancun Debacle: 'Should Not Have Apologized'

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has suggested that Senator Ted Cruz was wrong to apologize for flying to Mexico on vacation as Texans endured power cuts and freezing temperatures.

Cruz returned home on Thursday amid national outrage at his decision to leave for Cancun on Wednesday evening. The senator was photographed on his flight by other passengers, sparking hours of speculation as to his whereabouts while his office remained silent.

Speaking with reporters outside his Texas home on Thursday, Cruz acknowledged the public anger and said he regretted his decision. "It was obviously a mistake," he said. "In hindsight, I wouldn't have done it."

The senator said he had planned the family vacation "wanting to be a good dad," but had returned early because it "didn't feel right."

Public and political reaction to Cruz's trip has been near-uniformly critical, although the senator has been defended by some right-wing media personalities.

But Gaetz—an outspoken ally of former President Donald Trump who has boosted his profile by taking on populist conservative positions, particularly on identity politics—wrote on Twitter early on Friday that Cruz had been wrong to apologize.

"Ted Cruz should not have apologized," the congressman posted. He did not elaborate on the assertion.

Newsweek has contacted Gaetz's office to request further comment.

Ted Cruz should not have apologized.

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 19, 2021

Cruz is facing calls to resign over the trip to Mexico, with the Texas Democratic Party branding his actions "disturbing and disappointing." Protesters descended on the senator's home demanding his resignation shortly after he returned on Thursday.

Texas newspapers have also condemned Cruz. The Houston Chronicle said Cruz "plopped himself down on a direct flight to paradise and left us to fend for ourselves in this frozen hell."

The editorial added: "Take our advice, senator, and resign. Seems like you could use a break and we could, too, from an ineffective politician who, even in crisis, puts his personal itinerary before the needs of Texans."

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Cruz said: "With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them ... My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas."

Cruz said he was "continuing to work to try to get the power on," adding: "What's happening in Texas is unacceptable and a lot of Texans are hurting."

Ted Cruz at Cancun airport amid backlash
Sen. Ted Cruz is pictured at Cancun airport on February 18 amid a backlash over his family vacation to Mexico. MEGA/GC Images/Getty