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Republican senators express concerns, optimism at Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and other spoke to Tea Party supporters at a FreedomWorks rally on Wednesday afternoon.

The rally took place on Capitol Hill and the focus was on the conservative effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Still, many people in attendance, including some of the speakers, expressed disappointment with the GOP replacement plan.

Paul, the Kentucky Republican, called the American Health Care Act "riddled from top to bottom with problems" and said that it is more about "reimbursing a billion dollar insurance industry" than about what people want.

He also expressed his support for buying health care in group -- suggesting as an example that some could purchase their insurance on the marketplace through the National Rifle Association.

"The battle is just beginning," Paul added. "I promise you [GOP congresspeople] will not negotiate until they discover they don't have the votes."

North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows set his sights on insurance premiums. "We will be judged on one thing and it is not a CBO score," Meadows said, responding to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis that said millions of Americans would become uninsured under the GOP bill. "It is not even on keeping our word, even though we will be judge on that. It will be if premiums don't come down."

Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while expressing optimism and energy, said that the party can't afford to fail. "If Republicans take this opportunity and blow it, we will rightly be considered a laughing stock," he said.

"We can [lower premiums] Cruz added, "but only if we repeal the Obamacare insurance mandates. The mandates are what are driving premiums through the roof."

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