Rand Paul was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Lake Jackson, Texas. He attended Baylor University but did not earn a degree. He received a medical degree from Duke University.
Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, is an ophthalmologist who practiced in Bowling Green, Ky., until he was elected in 2010. He had never before run for elective office but had picked up political experience by campaigning on behalf of his father who ran for president three times, first as a Libertarian and later as a Republican.
Voters in Kentucky, a solidly Democratic state by registration, chose Paul over Democratic rival Jack Conway in the 2010 election.
Pundits often mention Paul as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016.
Paul and his wife, Kelley, have three children.
Rand Paul was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 by running as a political outsider at a time of intense anti-incumbent sentiment in Kentucky. Paul has the support of the tea party movement at both the state and national levels.
In the Senate, Paul has remained true to his tea party philosophy of ending congressional earmarks, whittling down the federal bureaucracy and opposing taxes. He also has remained a harsh critic of the 2010 federal health care reform bill.
He has distinguished himself in Washington by a relentless push for a balanced federal budget and a smaller federal government. He introduced a plan to balance to the federal budget shortly after his arrival at the Capitol. But his Senate colleagues have refused to accept the broad cuts to longstanding government programs and services that Paul's plan would require.
Paul's 2012 budget plan called for elimination of four cabinet departments and a 17 percent flat tax on individuals and corporations.
In 2012, the Senate rejected an effort by Paul to drastically cut food stamp spending and replace the food aid program with block grants to the states. The amendment would have saved $322 billion over 10 years.
He believes that the government has overstepped its authority when it comes civil liberties. He sponsored legislation in 2012 that would bar the government from using a drone to gather evidence or other information without a warrant. "I just don't like the concept of drones flying over barbeques in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates," he said.
Some of his views have been more controversial. Paul touched off a political firestorm when he expressed misgivings about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, saying that private businesses should be able to choose whether to serve minorities. That comment triggered a protest outside Kentucky's Republican Party headquarters the weekend after Kentucky's 2010 primary, providing political fodder for Democratic opponents and creating angst among national GOP leaders.
Paul also caused a furor when he faulted President Barack Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill, saying Obama's criticism of BP, the company responsible for the spill, was "un-American."
Paul's father is Rep. Ron Paul, a three-time presidential candidate. That family connection led to an outpouring of out-of-state campaign contributions that allowed him to mount an effective campaign against Republican primary challenger Trey Grayson in 2010. Paul raised about $3 million, largely from small-sum donors, staying even with Grayson who was backed by the Republican establishment.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell welcomed Paul as his new colleague, and praised the newcomer for his message of "reining in outrageous Washington spending and the overreaching policies of the Obama administration." The two have worked closely together since Paul's arrival in Washington.
As a candidate, Paul talked about possible future changes to Social Security and Medicare as growing numbers of baby boomers retire, but opposed changes for current recipients. And he denounced Obama's environmental policies as harmful to Kentucky coal.
To win, Paul had to overcome a much-maligned TV ad that asked why Paul was a member in college of a secret campus society that mocked Christians and once allegedly tied up a woman and told her to worship an idol called "Aqua Buddha."
Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Small Business and Entrepreneurship
American Conservative Union Rating: 100
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 15
Rand Paul is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 10, 2014.)