Feb 18, 2021
Ted Cruz Speaks After Returning From Mexico Trip During Texas Storm Transcript February 18
Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke to reporters when he returned to Houston on February 18, 2021 after flying to Cancun, Mexico during the winter storm in Texas. He said the controversial trip was “obviously a mistake.” He addressed the power outages and water challenges in Texas. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Ted Cruz: (00:00)
Well, I know the governor’s called for it, and I expect leaders across the state of Texas would call for it.
Speaker 2: (00:03)
Speaker 3: (00:08)
Obviously, there’s a lot of upset folks. You said you always plan to come back the next day. Was that the case, or [inaudible 00:00:17]?
Ted Cruz: (00:17)
I didn’t say that. We left yesterday. The plan had been to stay through the weekend with the family. That was the plan. And I have to admit it was… The last week’s been tough on a lot of folks. When our power went out, we were initially… We had power longer than many. And in fact, a lot of our girls’ friends came over. We were hosting them for dinner, and they were at our house because we had power and no one else did. And then the power went out right as we were starting to sit down for dinner, and it was out for two days.
Ted Cruz: (00:52)
The first night we had a bit of a… What I would say, a sleep over, where we had kids huddled in sleeping bags and blankets and wrapped up, and no lights and no heat. So everyone had flashlights. We had candles going. That’s an experience Texans all across our state had.
Ted Cruz: (01:14)
By the second day, we were clustered around the fireplaces, the only source of heat, and so huddled up in jackets and by the fireplace. And our girls, when they got the news that school was canceled this week, they said, “Look, why don’t we take a trip? Let’s go somewhere where it’s not so cold.” And Heidi and I… This had been a tough week, and it’s been a tough year for kids, kids all across the state of Texas. And so we were trying to be good parents and said, “Okay, we’ll do it.” And so we booked the flight.
Ted Cruz: (01:51)
I have to admit, I started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane. Because on the one hand, all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our kids, to take care of our family. That’s something Texans have been doing across the state, but I also have a responsibility that I take very seriously of fighting for the state of Texas, and frankly, 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. I couldn’t take a morning flight because the current restrictions require a COVID test. So I had to get a COVID test this morning before I could get on a flight back. So I took the first flight I could get after getting the COVID test and testing negative.
Speaker 4: (02:41)
Do you understand why people are so upset right now? It sounds like you do have a little bit of remorse from this. Do you feel that it’s deserved or no?
Ted Cruz: (02:51)
Oh, sure. Of course, I understand why people are upset. Listen, we’re in a strange time, where Twitter has been going crazy, and the media is going crazy, and there’s a lot of venom and vitriol that I think is unfortunate, frankly, on both sides. I think everyone ought to treat each other with respect and decency and try to understand each other more, particularly in a time of crisis.
Ted Cruz: (03:15)
I will say, one of the great things about Texas… I’ve served in the Senate eight years. We’ve seen crisis after crisis after crisis in this state. And over and over again, whenever there is a disaster, whenever there’s a crisis, Texans come together. Texans come together and unite, and that’s one of the things that always makes me proud of this state.
Ted Cruz: (03:37)
When I arrived and saw the initial firestorm, what had started with second thoughts that I had as soon as we left, grew even greater. And I certainly regret that this has become a distraction at a time when so many Texans are hurting and frustrated and mad, that this has become an item of debate and distraction. I think that’s unfortunate. That was certainly not my intention. My intention was to take care of my family, which was the intention of every Texan across the country and across the state who lost heat and lost light. You were doing the same thing. You were taking care of your family. And I think it’s unfortunate that that was understood in the way that some of the critics are taking it.
Speaker 4: (04:28)
Who’s to blame for this disaster in Texas? Who’s to blame?
Ted Cruz: (04:32)
Well, look, we had two storms that combined, one that hit early in the week and the second that had midweek. And that combination is extremely unusual. I spoke this weekend, before the storms hit, to a meteorologist, a weather expert who was looking at the projections and telling me this looks dangerous. This combination of not just one, but two, the impact on the state is going to be very serious. That the impact is going to knock down power production. It’s going to impact the state profoundly. And so I started, before the storms hit and as they were hitting, trying to warn Texans, take this seriously, this is not just another winter storm. The impact of this is going to be significant. And based on the expert guidance I was getting, I wanted to make sure Texans knew that.
Ted Cruz: (05:23)
I also connected that expert with the governor to make sure the governor had the benefit of this meteorologist’s judgment about the storm and the magnitude of what was coming in. And early on, the governor had just declared a disaster and all to 254 counties in Texas. That was before the storms that hit because the governor was receiving the same advice I was, that this combination of two storms was exceptionally dangerous. When the governor declared a disaster, I joined with John Cornyn, and the two of us wrote a letter to President Biden, urging the President to declare a federal disaster area for the state of Texas, to grant the governor’s request, and President Biden did so. I’m grateful that he did.
Ted Cruz: (06:07)
What was not anticipated is that with this historic cold, and we knew we were going to see temperatures 30, 40 degrees below historic norms for this time of year, what was not anticipated is that the electrical grid would come wildly short of what was needed to provide for the needs of the state of Texas. The rolling blackouts that in some parts of the state, I hear reports the rolling blackouts were 30 minutes on 30 minutes off. In other parts of the state, for us it was two straight days of no power at all. And so, it seems to have varied geographically region by region.
Ted Cruz: (06:49)
I think there’s going to have to be a serious inquiry into why it was… What were the factors that led the grid not to be able to meet the energy needs of Texans? I’ve seen some of the early debates back and forth. I’ve seen some of the reporting that a number of wind turbines froze in the low temperature environment. Texas is the number one producer of wind energy in the country. About 25% of our electricity comes from wind, and so that was a factor. There were other electricity sources that also had significant weather related problems, both natural gas and coal.
Ted Cruz: (07:26)
And so, I think we need to have a careful investigation, not in the passion of the moment, when people’s emotions are high, but a careful, serious, fact-based examination about what factors led to the grid being vulnerable. The grid is something that is designed, it is maintained, it is operated, it is regulated at the state level. So that is not a federal government operation, but ERCOT has produced real success in having low cost energy here in the state of Texas. And most days out of the year, Texans are greater to have lower electricity bills than many other parts of the country. But at the same time, I think a lot of Texans are asking, “Well, why wasn’t it there when we needed it?” And we need to have a serious and careful examination of that, based on the facts.
Speaker 4: (08:24)
Should those officials be fired?
Ted Cruz: (08:26)
Well, it depends what decisions was made. There needs to be a serious examination of what factors led to the grid not being able to sustain the needs and failing massively. And that’s something that I don’t want to jump the gun and make assumptions about those Decisions. One of the things we’re seeing online is, for example, this being a battle front in the wars over energy or fossil fuels and back and forth, and both sides blaming the other. Look, I think we should be driven by the facts.
Ted Cruz: (09:03)
And I don’t know. I’ve seen some of the early reporting. It seems there was a significant number of wind turbines that froze. My understanding is that there are wind turbines that are used in other environments that are colder, that don’t freeze. And so these turbines could have been treated in a way to prepare them for the cold weather.
Ted Cruz: (09:20)
That being said, in most parts of Texas, there isn’t cold weather very often. And so that’s an examination that needs to be made, and an examination needs to be made of the other basis, the other sources of energy in the state, and where the lack of power generation came from, and what’s the best way to respond to that and provide that lack of power generation.
Speaker 5: (09:51)
[crosstalk 00:09:51] what do you say to the people who saw you leave the state of Texas during this [inaudible 00:09:56]?
Ted Cruz: (09:57)
Well, what I would say is I was taking care of my family, the same way Texans all across the state were taking care of my family. And it certainly was not my intention for that to be understood, as critics have tried to paint it, as somehow diminishing the suffering and hardship other Texans had experienced.
Ted Cruz: (10:17)
Look, Texans want this problem solved. I want this problem solved. I want the power on. We’ve got most of the homes that had lost power have gotten power back. That’s a good first step. We still have… water supply is still questionable in a lot of places, and that’s frustrating. Having boil notices, that’s frustrating too. The first thing we need to do is correct the immediate problem.
Ted Cruz: (10:41)
And then the second thing we need to do is engage in the longer term examination. As I said, the operation and regulation of that is at the state level and not the federal level, but I think those questions Texans want answers. And I’m glad the governor is calling for the legislature to investigate that, because I think that that is an investigation that needs to happen.
Speaker 2: (11:03)
Speaker 6: (11:03)
Senator Cruz. Senator Cruz. A lot of people are [inaudible 00:11:07] at this time, told them if you come back because you feel guilty, or did you come back because you got caught, and a lot of backlash [inaudible 00:11:17].
Ted Cruz: (11:18)
So, the question from the video on the cell phone was whether the decision to go was tone deaf. Look, it was obviously a mistake, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad. And all of us have made decisions… When you got two girls who’ve been cold for two days and haven’t had heater power, and they’re saying, “Hey, look, we don’t have school. Why don’t we go? Let’s get out of here.” I think there are a lot of parents that’d be like, “All right, if I can do this, great.” That’s what I wanted to do.
Ted Cruz: (11:52)
As I said, really from the moment I sat on the plane, I began to really second guessing that decision and saying, “Look, I know why we’re doing this, but I’ve also got responsibilities.” And it had been in my intention to be able to work remotely, to be on the phone, to be on internet, to be on Zoom, to be engaged, but I needed to be here. And that’s why I came back.
Ted Cruz: (12:18)
And then as it became a bigger and bigger firestorm, it became all the more compelling that I needed to come back because our priority should be fixing this problem and making sure it doesn’t happen again. And I didn’t want all the screaming and yelling about this trip to distract even one moment from the real issues that I think Texans care about, which is keeping all of our families safe.
Speaker 2: (12:48)
Okay. Thank you all.
Ted Cruz: (12:50)
Thank you, guys.
Speaker 2: (12:50)
Speaker 4: (12:50)
Speaker 5: (12:51)
Ted Cruz: (12:52)
And stay warm. Do you guys have power yet? How are you doing?
Speaker 7: (13:01)
Ted Cruz: (13:03)
It was frustrating [inaudible 00:13:06] boiling water [inaudible 00:13:08] so much you can do. [inaudible 00:13:14] thank you, guys.