U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said today he's "very supportive" of fellow Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and hopes Alexander doesn't get an opponent in next year's election.

But Paul, a Tea Party favorite, stopped short of a formal endorsement of Alexander, a two-term incumbent who Tennessee Tea Party leaders want to defeat in next year's GOP primary.

Paul was in Nashville today where he and Alexander toured a charter school. Asked by a reporter about whether he would endorse Alexander, the Kentucky senator called such questions "sort of a fun parlor game" for news media.

"I hate to be trapped into, 'oh I'm down here endorsing Sen. Alexander.' I'm down here for education. I'm here to learn from Sen. Alexander's expertise and other Tennessee officials," Paul said.

But Paul went on to say, "I'm very supportive of Sen. Alexander, and I hope he doesn't get an opponent, I really do. I hope he wins."