He did what?
Senator Ted Cruz was by no means on anyone’s shortlist for the Most Empathetic Politician award. But his newest show startled even essentially the most jaded political palms.
With Cruz’s house state, Texas, buffeted by a snowstorm that has brought on widespread energy failures and claimed dozens of lives nationwide, Cruz received on a airplane final night time and flew to Cancún, Mexico, for a household trip. Photos started circulating on social media this morning, accompanied by a refrain of dismay and mock.
Early this afternoon he launched a press release saying that his youngsters had wished to take a trip and arguing that he was nonetheless capable of work from overseas. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he mentioned, including that he deliberate to come back house at the moment.
Later, after he arrived again within the United States, Cruz mentioned the journey was “obviously a mistake” and mentioned he had begun “second-guessing” it as quickly as he received on the airplane to Mexico.
I referred to as up a number of crisis-communications professionals who’ve labored with different embattled politicians to get their tackle the Cruz fiasco. They all sang some variation on the identical theme: simply wow.
“You can pretty much do damage control for anything, and I think he could do damage control for this,” mentioned Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who labored on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential marketing campaign final 12 months. Still, she added: “You have to wonder what the hell was he thinking doing this. The optics of this could not be much worse.”
Stu Loeser, the longtime press secretary for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York — who typically took discreet journeys to Bermuda whereas in workplace — was additionally amazed by Cruz’s resolution to fly the coop at one in every of his state’s most susceptible moments in current reminiscence.
“The hardest part in politics and the hardest part in crisis communications is the same thing: being able to predict the future,” Loeser mentioned. “But in this case, people have been without power for days. You knew what would happen.”
Risa Heller, a disaster advisor who suggested the disgraced former Representative Anthony Weiner, mentioned that even in a fast-moving, 24-hour information cycle, Cruz’s resolution to undergo along with his trip may very well be onerous to stay down. “It will stay with him for a long time,” she mentioned. “Folks in Texas are not going to forget that a guy who they elected to look out for their interests went on a vacation at their darkest time.”
She added: “Sometimes someone goes out of town and something crazy happens and they have to come back. You can say, ‘I understand that.’ But this is not that. This storm happened and then he left. It sends a real message to his constituents. I guess time will tell if they’ll forgive him, but it’s pretty unforgivable.”
The Republican strategist Joel Sawyer helped former Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina climate the 2009 scandal over his secret holidays with a paramour, which almost ended his political profession. (He in the end accomplished his time period as governor and later regained his outdated seat within the House.) Sawyer mentioned that after Sanford left the governor’s mansion, he labored to revive his repute by providing contrition.
Sawyer wasn’t so certain Cruz had it in him to do the identical. “Yes, he can do damage control, but it’s going require great humility on his part,” he mentioned. “I’m not sure how much of that Ted Cruz can muster.”
On Politics can be obtainable as a e-newsletter. Sign up right here to get it delivered to your inbox.
Is there something you assume we’re lacking? Anything you wish to see extra of? We’d love to listen to from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.