U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, fit and feisty after a long day of campaigning, started unfolding papers soon after we sat down for a late-afternoon coffee earlier this week. Alexander had copied and pasted none of it.

"This is the FAFSA," Alexander said as he kept unfolding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the form college students and/or their parents must complete to receive any aid of any type. "There are 108 questions. This is the federal government at work, asking questions that are unnecessary."

Alexander said 20 million Americans must complete the form every year they are in higher education. He worries the complexity overwhelms would-be college students and their parents, exactly like a much simpler form overwhelmed your humble scribe and his parents decades ago.

"The worst thing is (FAFSA's complexity) discourages students from higher education," Alexander said, noting students must complete the FAFSA to qualify for Tennessee Promise, the state's innovative last-dollar scholarship program funding two years of postsecondary education for any high school grad. "FAFSA could discourage people from doing what Gov. (Bill) Haslam wants them to do."

Alexander, after hearing from college administrators from Tennessee and around the country in his position as ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, wants to simplify the 10-page form to a postcard-size application.

"This is something I could do as a senator to help Gov. Haslam help more kids go to college," Alexander said. Alexander plans to introduce legislation to simplify higher ed financial aid after the mid-term elections. If re-elected, and if Republicans take control of the Senate, Alexander would become chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

"(As chairman) I can take the lead to abolish Obamacare, deregulate higher education and turn the National Labor Relations Board into an umpire instead of an advocate," Alexander said. He also noted that, as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, he can influence the $2.6 billion of funding for federal programs in Oak Ridge. Alexander, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last month introduced legislation to restructure ("reign in," in his words) the NLRB.

In a one-hour conversation, we talked more policy than politics. I finally asked how the campaign was going.

"Good," Alexander said. "You either run scared or unopposed, and I'm not unopposed." Though he didn't mention Democrat Gordon Ball, whose campaign plagiarized policy positions from other senators' websites, by name, Alexander drew clear contrast. "My opponent would be one more vote for Obama's agenda," Alexander said.

"I'll be one more vote to move our country in a conservative direction," Alexander said. "(Ball would) be one more cut-and-paste senator." The contrast, to me, is even starker. Alexander has an informed, original strategy to govern. And he didn't copy it from the Internet.