Since his upset victory in 2010, Senator Rand Paul has made headlines with his independent views. Heritage’s Jackie Anderson recently sat down with the Kentucky Republican to discuss his views.

Paul said the U.S. Constitution is the basis of his political philosophy, a lesson he took from his father, former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), a two-time GOP presidential candidate. Ron and Rand Paul are the only father and son in American history to have held concurrent positions in the House and Senate.

“The constitution is important. It’s a living, breathing document, and it’s supposed to still have applicability today,” said Paul. “And [My father] was a strong believer that the founding fathers were very wise in what they set up and that that foundation was supposed to protect freedom and protect our liberty.”

“One of the big things the founders had in mind were checks and balances. They divided up power. This is a big idea they got from Montesquieu,” he said. “Madison really strongly believed that the power to declare war is in the legislature.”

This does not mean Paul doesn’t support a strong military, a view he said he learned from Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan believed in a preponderance of strength,” he said. “He very much believed in peace and did not want war.”

Paul said his concern is that political power has now drifted toward the presidency. The solution is to return to the constitutional process of the founders, even if it might seem slow.

“Some people get tired of it and they say, ‘Oh, that’s gridlock, and gridlock’s bad,’” he said. “But if you fear that as government gradually grows that your freedom is gradually eroded, a slower process, and more deliberate process, is probably a good one.”

Paul held no political office before becoming a Senator. Since 1993, he has practiced ophthalmology as an eye doctor in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he still gives free eye care to the uninsured.

“The most common surgery I do is cataract surgery. I like medicine. I trained for a long time to do it. I miss it,” he said. “Plus, there’s just a great feeling you get from being able to help these people who don’t have any insurance to get some care and get their vision back.”

“I like to tell people that I’m unafraid to be unelected because I’ve got a real job some day to go back to.”

Senator Rand Paul spoke at Heritage on February 6. Watch his speech.