Washington (CNN) - During his first speech on the Senate floor, Tea Party champion Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, brought up what may be a dirty word for some of his constituents: compromise.
"Many ask will the Tea Party compromise? Will the Tea Party work with others to find a solution?" the senator asked in a speech that was part history lesson and part Socratic inquiry.
Paul explained his Senate desk was once occupied by Henry Clay, a former Kentucky senator and secretary of state known as the "Great Compromiser." But in his speech, Paul questioned whether the compromises Clay made on slavery proved it was more important to firmly support what is right than to try to find common ground.
Instead, Paul pointed to Clay's cousin Cassius, a fierce abolitionist and fiery character who refused to budge on the issue of slavery.
"Now, today we have no issues, no moral issues that have equivalency with the issue of slavery. Yet we do face a fiscal nightmare, potentially a debt crisis in our country," he said. "Should we compromise by raising taxes and cutting spending as the debt commission proposes?"
"Of course there must be dialogue and ultimately compromise, but the compromise must occur on where we cut spending," Paul said.