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Judson Phillips, leader of Tea Party Nation, said Mr. Cruz’s filibuster goes to the heart of an issue that’s dear to the conservative rebellion.

“When the tea party got started, Obamacare along with spending were the most the significant issues. Drones was not, and is still not,” he said. “Obamacare is a lightning-rod issue, and now that people are standing up, it is electrifying the base.”

Drew Ryun, political director of the conservative Madison Project and former deputy director of the Republican National Committee, said the health care issue has a broader resonance than Mr. Paul’s drone fight.

“Even people who are Democrats or apolitical are getting the letters from their employers that their coverage is being cut and their premiums are skyrocketing,” he said. “This is something that must be blocked, and the only way to do it is before it takes root.”

But in terms of theater and delivery, observers said, Mr. Paul’s filibuster was better.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said Mr. Cruz’s effort was “a pale imitation.”

“The novelty seems to have worn off for the American people and even many Republicans,” he said.

Jim Manley, a former senior aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Mr. Reid, said there wasn’t any excitement.

“As far as the Senate goes, at least what Sen. Paul did had a bit of drama and excitement. This is about as boring as watching paint dry,” he said. “If Senator Vitter is one of your only colleagues to help you out on the floor you know you are in big trouble.”

Mr. Manley was referring to Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who was one of a handful of senators to come to the floor to help Mr. Cruz carry the speaking burden in the early hours of the affair.

Under the rules of the Senate, Mr. Cruz was required to stand the whole time to signify he had control of the floor, but he could yield to colleagues for questions, and they often asked minutes-long questions in order to give him a brief breather.

Indeed, during Mr. Paul’s filibuster this year, his colleagues competed to help him, egged on by a “Stand with Rand” campaign launched over Twitter.

Mr. Cruz was one of those who helped Mr. Paul, and the senator from Kentucky returned the favor Tuesday, coming to the floor to ask questions of Mr. Cruz and to offer advice.

Mr. Cruz said he had taken to heart some of Mr. Paul’s advice, particularly about wearing comfortable shoes — so much so that he ditched his usual lucky ostrich-skin boots for sneakers.

“I took the coward’s way out,” he confessed to his C-SPAN audience.