A billboard and posters blasting Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz for flying to Cancun in Mexcio as his state struggles with power outages and freezing temperatures have gone up around Texas. A truck was spotted driving around Houston with the message: "Texas froze. Ted Fled."
— Natalie Hee FOX 26 (@NatalieHee) February 19, 2021
A smaller message below the big letters reads: "Paid for by Occupy Democrats election fund and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee."
According to their website, Occupy Democrats is an advocacy group started in 2012 to counter the Republican Tea Party and claims to be "the largest and most active community of Democratic voters in the world".
Occupy Democrats have been accused of posting hyperpartisan and sometimes outright false information to their millions of Facebook followers. BuzzFeed News studied three leftwing Facebook pages, including Occupy Democrats, in the runup to the 2016 election and found that 20 per cent of the posts were partly or mostly false.
Pranksters "The Good Liars" posted images of mock posters saying that Mr Cruz was missing and last seen in "Cancun, Mexico, leaving his state in the middle of a natural disaster," and calling his beard "weird".
Protesters also quickly gathered outside Mr Cruz' home in Houston yesterday with signs saying "RESIGN" and "CANCUN CRUZ".
Protesters await Sen. Ted Cruz's arrival at his Texas home. pic.twitter.com/9eHPlUGBqC
— The Recount (@therecount) February 18, 2021
Activists waited for Mr Cruz at the airport when he returned, one of them holding a sign saying "24 dead, Ted!"
Activists were waiting for Sen. Ted Cruz as he returned to Texas from a trip to Cancun.
He fled Texas as millions were experiencing power cuts and water shortages due to the winter storm. He defended himself by blaming his children for wanting to go on a trip. pic.twitter.com/Vq9ZstYFni
— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 19, 2021
Mr Cruz said at first that he just wanted "to be a good dad" and that he was only going to drop off his kids in Cancun, signalling that he had intended to return immediately on Thursday before backtracking and admitting that he had initially decided to stay over the weekend.
In a statement, Mr Cruz said: “Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too... 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. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”
It was later revealed that he was initially scheduled to stay till Saturday. Realizing his mistake, Mr Cruz booked another flight for Thursday and went on a media apology tour when he returned in an attempt to clean up the mess.
Speaking to reporters outside his home in Houston after his return, Mr Cruz said: “From the moment I sat on the plane, I began really second-guessing that decision and saying, ‘Look, I know why we’re doing this, but I’ve also got responsibilities.'"
He added: "Leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn’t feel right, and so I changed my return flight and flew back on the first available flight I could take... Look, it was obviously a mistake... In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad.”