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Rand Paul: I'm a "Fan" of Divided Government

With 37 incoming members who also identify themselves as Tea Party politicians, it won't be his affiliation that makes Sen.-Elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) unique on Capitol Hill in January.

But it may be his excitement about working with a divided House and Senate that sets him apart.

In an interview with "Washington Unplugged," this Republican from Kentucky says he looks forward to working with a House controlled by his party and a Democratic White House and Senate, calling himself a "fan" of divided government. (watch the interview at left)

"Divided government means more debate. I think debate is healthy. When one side has a vast majority then nobody debates," Paul said. "I think that's what the federal takeover of health care was. One side got everything they wanted."

Paul said in the interview he would love to meet the president and that working with President Obama will be "interesting." On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Paul told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer that he is still waiting for a phone call from the president and looks forward to informing him of Tea Party position, particularly on the economy.

Mr. Obama and Paul may agree- reducing the federal deficit will require some tough choices.

"Within a few years Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will consume the entire budget and then there's nothing left. Zero left for anything else, if we don't reform the system. And that means some tough choices," he said.

Mr. Obama echoed that sentiment in remarks in Asia last week, reacting to the debt commission's preliminary recommendations.

Paul cited Kentucky constituents' concerns that the federal government has grown at an "enormous rate," singling out Obama's health care reform legislation.

"Now we've got more pressure on the budget because they created a long-term entitlement in health care that wasn't here before this bill," Paul said.

Regarding the movement credited with getting him elected, Paul said he hoped the Tea Party would have a big influence in 2012.

"The good news for those of us who are Republicans is that the Tea Party has increased our power and given us new energy," Paul said. "But the Tea Party isn't just Republican. They will tell Republicans, if you don't vote the right we will throw you out of office too."

CBS News political analyst John Dickerson,'s Charles Ellison and Real Clear Politics' Scott Conroy also appeared with Schieffer on Monday's "Washington Unplugged."  You can watch the full show below:

"Washington Unplugged,"'s exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

Christine Delargy
Christine Delargy is an associate producer for You can read more of her posts here. For more of Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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