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Mr. Cruz, responding to a separate question about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also suggested a state-first approach to health care when he declined to second-guess Mr. Christie’s decision to sign a law that bars gay-conversion therapy among children.

“The decisions that states make locally about health care, I think, are best left to the states,” he said.

Mr. Cruz, who hasn’t kept a low profile as a freshman senator, is frequently linked to a presidential run in 2016.

Heritage Action, a conservative advocacy group, is on a nine-city tour to mobilize support for defunding the health overhaul, and Mr. Cruz roiled the crowd during a stop in Dallas last week.

And despite visits to Iowa and New Hampshire — vital prizes during a presidential primary season — Mr. Cruz insisted that the media likes to stir up talk of 2016.

“I think it’s the silly season in politics,” he said.

Rafael Cruz, the senator’s father, declined to map out his son’s political career during a cameo appearance on the program.

“That is the future,” he said. “Nobody knows what the future brings.”