Sen. Ted Cruz's big mistake in jetting off to Cancun wasn't leaving his constituents suffering in a deadly cold, it was forgetting how to play the political game ... according to Texas GOP brass, anyway.
Warren Norred, a member of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee tells TMZ ... the Senator's only guilty of political tone-deafness, and he's not surprised.
Norred claims Ted's not a natural politician, and therefore didn't think like one ... who would understand taking a trip in the middle of a crisis tends to draw outrage from voters.
Frankly, that rationalization doesn't hold water, because Cruz has repeatedly blasted Democrats in D.C. -- especially President Obama -- for, in his eyes, sleeping on the job during crises.
Jack P. Barcroft, another TX GOP Exec. Committee member, isn't laying blame on Cruz, but on his staff. He says someone in the Senator's office is dedicated to optics and media relations, and failed Cruz by not blocking his Cancun getaway.
Barcroft also thinks Cruz caved when he flew back, and should've just followed through with his trip. He believes the Senator could have effectively led from down there.
Late Thursday, once back in Texas, even Cruz admitted the trip was a mistake. Earlier, he claimed he always intended to come back Thursday, and was merely dropping off his daughters to visit with friends.
Of course, his wife also went and, presumably, could've done that on her own.
The Texas Democratic Party definitely isn't buying what Cruz is selling.
In a scathing statement, the party said ... "Cruz had already proven to be an enemy to our democracy by inciting an insurrection. Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need."