Days after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) ditched Texas during a deadly winter storm for the sandy beaches of Mexico, the Republican made light of the scandal in a bizarre speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
“I gotta say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice,” Cruz quipped in his speech, titled “Bill of Rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture.”
The joke, which comes as Texas is still reeling from the unprecedented storm that left millions of residents without power and killed at least 30, was just one of many odd remarks the lawmaker made during his speech.
Last week, photos emerged of Cruz boarding a Feb. 17 flight to Mexico as his state literally froze and millions of Texans were left in the dark and without drinkable water. After getting caught, Cruz booked a return flight to the U.S. on Feb. 18 and insisted he was merely trying to “be a good dad” by accompanying his daughters on a trip to Mexico. Texts from his wife to friends suggested the entire family had planned to stay in Mexico until Feb. 21.
During Cruz’s CPAC speech, which at times seemed more like a comedy routine, Cruz also took aim at those who exposed his trip—namely the media—and questioned the validity of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 500,000 Americans.
“This is just dumb,” Cruz said, pretending not to understand the importance of wearing a mask to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “We’re gonna wear masks for the next 300 years. And by the way, not just one mask—two, three, four—you can’t have too many masks! How much virtue do you wanna signal?”
Likening the Republican party to the “rebel alliance” in Star Wars, Cruz then went after Democrats and the media, claiming they “are convinced that political theater helps them.”
“The media desperately, desperately wants a Republican civil war,” he said. “Liberty is under assault and what are we going to do? I will tell you: We will fight!”
He then insisted that people should “lighten up”—before making a transphobic joke about a New York Times story that said 60 percent of women named Karen voted for Biden.
“I’m willing to believe 80 percent of men named Karen voted for Joe Biden,” he said as the crowd burst into applause and cheers.
Toward the end of his speech, as the crowd of conservatives began to chant “freedom,” Cruz insisted that his close ally, former President Donald Trump, would make a valiant return.
“Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” he said.
Before walking off the stage, the embattled Republican screeched to the crowd: “FREEDOM!”