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Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took an unusual path to his seat in the United States Senate: Though his father, the libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has spent decades in office, Rand Paul had never previously held public office before winning in 2010. Throughout his campaign, Paul fils identified more with the Tea Party than with the Republican Party, and he ran against the hand-picked candidate of one of the most powerful Republicans in America, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). After trouncing both his primary challenger and the Democratic nominee, Paul did not mention the GOP once in his victory speech last November, saying instead, "Tonight, there's a Tea Party tidal wave."

Since entering office, the freshman senator has quickly proven himself to be the most interesting and radical voice on Capitol Hill, proposing immediate budget cuts 500 percent steeper than anything else Republicans have contemplated, speaking eloquently against the PATRIOT Act and runaway defense spending, and going bonkers against nanny-state regulations in the home. He's even taken on the sainted 19th-century Kentucky statesman Henry Clay ("the Great Compromiser") in a speech that caused McConnell to leave the room. And this all happened just in Paul's first two months in office.

Now the freshman senator has a new book out, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, that discusses his political journey, the intellectual bankruptcy of both major parties, and the urgency of our clear and present fiscal crisis. Reason's Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie interviewed Sen. Paul in his temporary Senate office in March 2011.

Interview produced by Meredith Bragg with Josh Swain and Austin Bragg.

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