“I’m thinking about it, but I haven’t made my mind up and won’t until 2014,” Paul said in an interview. “I’m mostly concerned with trying to do my job as a United States senator from Kentucky, and making sure I’m paying attention to problems in Kentucky and to the national problems we can deal with. Being part of the national debate and doing my job as a Kentucky senator sort of overlap.”

While some analysts contrasted Paul’s hard-edged remarks Tuesday night – he rejected bipartisanship and urged voters to “send them home” if lawmakers don’t drastically cut federal spending – with Rubio’s more nuanced comments, the junior senator from Kentucky downplayed a potential competition with the charismatic Cuban-American from Florida.

“I see our responses last night as complimentary and not necessarily (indicative of) any kind of rivalry,” Paul said. “I don’t think it’s my job to characterize other senators or their voting patterns. I’ve got enough work trying to set an agenda for the direction I think the country needs to take. That’s more important than any differences or similarities with any other senator.”