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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says Republicans lost the government-shutdown budget battle because members of his own party in Congress turned their guns on one another.

But he also said he s encouraged they won t make the same mistake during the next political impasse.

The tea party firebrand addressed a Texas Medical Association conference Saturday in Austin, saying the nation s new health care law has millions of Americans hurting.

Cruz helped partially shut down the government in an attempt to sever funding for the law.

With the U.S. facing default, the Senate brokered a deal to end the standoff. But Cruz savaged his colleagues, saying he was saddened by their lack of courage.

Many now see Cruz as Texas most-popular Republican. His approval ratings nationally may be slipping a bit, however.

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