ORLANDO (KXAN) — Sen. Ted Cruz made light of the controversy surrounding his recent trip to Mexico while Texas was dealing with its winter storm.

“I gotta say… Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun… but it’s nice,” Cruz joked to a mixture of cheers, boos and laughs as he started his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Cruz’s favorability rating among Republican voters dropped 23% after the trip to Cancun, which he cut short. He later called the decision “obviously a mistake.”

Cruz was one of the headline speakers Friday at CPAC. His speech in Orlando came on the same day that President Joe Biden was in Houston with Sen. John Cornyn, Gov. Greg Abbott and others touring winter storm damage and getting an update on the state’s vaccine distribution.

The White House pool reporter asked if Cruz had been invited. They were told “there was neither an invitation” to Cruz nor a request from him to participate.

Cruz sharply criticized the rules around wearing masks, honored the life and conservative leadership of the late Rush Limbaugh, and said that “Donald J. Trump isn’t going anywhere” as he touched on a number of other topics in his speech.

Cruz criticizes rules surrounding masks

In speaking about masks, Cruz said, “Can I just stop and say how strange the rules are right now?”

“I want to understand how this virus works. So when you walk in, you got to put your mask on — sadly I’ve got two. You walk in, you got to put your mask on, you sit down, and you take your mask off. Apparently the virus is actually connected to elevation.

“You can sit at the table and there’s no virus being transmitted, but if you stand up — PUT THE MASK ON!”

Gov. Abbott first issued an executive order last July requiring people to wear masks. He was the first Republican governor to do so, though many others quickly followed suit.

On Thursday though, speaking at a news conference in Corpus Christi, Abbott said he would like to end that order soon. Leaders with Austin Public Health criticized the governor’s suggestion Friday saying, “We’re nowhere near herd immunity right now. It’s not time to take off our masks.”