A booming voice amidst the federal budget crisis, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he has promised his Tea Party faithful followers that he will remain dedicated to his beliefs, even if it means not getting re-elected.
"I do think I'm able to agitate," he said. "Everything up here is fixable, but you have to have people who aren't afraid to talk about it. I'm not afraid not to be elected. Six years from now, they can bring me back home."
In an interview with ABC News' Bill Weir, Paul claimed his own party wasn't doing enough to cut government spending as the deadline for preventing a federal government shutdown approaches next week.
"I think the entire Republican caucus on the Senate side is for a balanced budget amendment, and I say that's good," he said. "That means we are philosophically in tune but I say you have to cut spending. ... I don't think they realize the enormity of the problem."
Paul, the co-founder of the Senate Tea Party caucus and author of "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," has become one of the most controversial senators since assuming office in January. The spending cuts he wants are far more drastic than what his fellow senators are proposing -- 10 times more.
The GOP proposed a plan to cut $50 billion in spending from the federal budget, but Paul said he wanted to slash $500 billion, which included shutting down the Departments of Energy and Education, killing the Consumer Product Safety Commission, crippling the defense budget and cutting off all foreign aid.
"The bottom line is, I tell people in Kentucky," he said. "I would say, 'I am not here to bring you a brand new shiny building. I am not here to bring you any federal money.' There is no money left."
On Tuesday, Paul rejected the Senate Democrats' proposal to temporarily extend government funding past the March 4 deadline. The senator said he didn't want the federal government to be shut down, but was steadfast in the belief that the solutions that were being proposed weren't good enough.
"I hope we can find a compromise," he said. "The other side wants the dynamic of blaming Republicans for shutting things down, but this happens at every level of government. For example, in my little town, if they don't pass the budget, do you know the first thing they do? They turn the lights off at the Little League park and say no more Little League games because they want everybody up in arms. But they're trying to get what they want."
Rand Paul: 'Laws Are Best Done at the Local Level'
A longtime campaigner for small government, Paul said that the federal government may have an obligation to take care of its citizens, but issues such as welfare benefits are handled better by local agencies.
"As a Christian, we are our brothers' keepers and we do have a moral obligation to take care of them," he said. "The question you have you ask is, is the federal government equipped to do that? We used to have a Bowling Green welfare department. I'd much rather have that than a Washington welfare department because if you came down there with a bottle of liquor and you weren't looking for a job, your benefits ran out quickly."
Paul's hatred for federal government regulation was blatant when he cast the sole "no" vote last week on a measure that would make it a federal crime to shine a handheld laser pointer into the cockpit of an aircraft in flight. The measure passed in the Senate 96 to 1, with three senators not present.
"Every time there is a social problem or a criminal problem or something, we heap on a new law," Paul said. "Laws are best done at the local level."
The freshman senator was a breakout candidate for the Tea Party movement after securing the Republican nomination last year, and then beating Democrat Jack Conway for the Kentucky senate seat.
The son of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Paul, 47, now shares a home with his equally controversial father on Capitol Hill.
Paul said he grew up worshipping his father, even when Ron Paul was mocked and praised for his iconoclastic ideals. Rand supported his dad through his 2008 presidential bid, when the elder Paul campaigned to cut big government, end wars and legalize marijuana. When Rand Paul decided to leave his ophthalmology practice to run for office, he said his father offered this advice:
"He said just be quiet and don't try to stir up any trouble," Rand Paul said, sarcastically.
"No controversial votes," his father chimed in. "We don't believe in that. We believe go along and get along."
Rand Paul Says He Questioned Running for Senate
Despite his successes, and now making a prominent name for himself, Paul acknowledged that his radical ideas of how government should be run created horrible backlash for him on the campaign trail.
"There were times when I would come home and my wife was crying about the things they were saying about me," he said. "We thought 'Is it worth it?' you know?"
One of the most memorable firestorms during the campaign was when Paul argued in an editorial meeting with the Louisville Courier Journal that by ordering restaurants to serve African-Americans, the Civil Rights Act gave too much power to government.
"I abhor racism and I think it's bad business to exclude anyone from your restaurant, but I do believe in private ownership," Paul said at the time.
But the lowest point of his campaign, Paul said, was when an anonymous former college classmate of his told GQ magazine that during a pot-fueled college escapade, Paul kidnapped her, tied her up and made her worship a pagan water god called "Aqua Buddha."
The woman later clarified that it wasn't kidnapping, but a harmless prank. All along, Paul has categorically denied the allegations.
"You know now we can look back and my wife and I can laugh at it a little bit," he said. "I am not a perfect person, but I barely even get speeding tickets."