Marco Rubio is often compared to Barack Obama on the campaign trail, and he’s quick to refute questions over their comparable inexperience before running for president.
But there’s at least one way the senator from Florida draws his own comparison to Obama — if only to pledge he'll score the big wins for conservatives that Obama did for liberals.
"Barack Obama has been the most consequential liberal president since Franklin Roosevelt," Rubio told NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez in a sit-down interview aboard his campaign bus in New Hampshire.
Rubio doesn't believe Obama's accomplishments have been good for the country: He claimed Obama orchestrated a government takeover of the healthcare system, wants to raise taxes and has weakened the military.
"Barack Obama has been an effective liberal. We need to reverse that with someone who is as committed to conservative principles as he has been to liberalism," Rubio said.
Rubio dismissed comparisons to Obama from his critics as sour grapes from other candidates jockeying for advantage in the presidential race.
"When people want to win a campaign they say all kinds of things," Rubio said. "I disagree with Barack Obama on virtually every major issue of consequence that’s come before this country."
Rubio's comments came in response to recent criticism from his rivals that, like Obama when he first ran for president, Rubio has little concrete to show for his career in politics.
The criticism picked up steam Thursday when former Sen. Rick Santorum, who endorsed Rubio immediately after dropping out of the presidential race on Wednesday, struggled to name any accomplishments from Rubio’s time in the Senate.
But Rubio pushed back against those critiques in the interview, telling Gutierrez that he’s "proud of my record in public service."
Rubio touted his work on property rights as speaker of the Florida House. In the Senate, Rubio highlighted his efforts to reform the Veterans Administration, eliminate the Obamacare risk corridors and pass new sanctions on Hezbollah.
Pressed on whether passing those sanctions — which drew widespread bipartisan support — constituted a prime achievement of his five years in the Senate, Rubio argued that the Senate had been "paralyzed" by former Majority Leader Harry Reid, making it impossible to pass anything of much consequence.
"Well, listen, we've been in the United States Senate that's been literally paralyzed by Harry Reid for four out of the last five years," Rubio said. "But yes, I'm frustrated at the lack of progress in Washington. That's why I'm running for president, because I want these things to be meaningful again."
Rubio dismissed overall the scrutiny on his record, arguing the election should be a look forward more than anything.
"At the end of the day, this election's about the future, not just a resume competition. This election is about what happens next for America," he said.
Rubio’s been campaigning hard in New Hampshire, and heads into the final three days before voters head to the polls riding on the momentum of a stronger-than-expected finish in Iowa and a cascade of powerful endorsements from elected officials in a handful of states. The good week both provides a positive backdrop to, and ups the ante for, the next GOP debate, on Saturday night, when he’s certain to have a target on his back.
But Rubio insisted he wasn’t fazed by the pressure, and his prep-work for the debates was mostly just keeping current on the latest news.
"I’m running for president. I know what I stand for. I know what I believe. And so preparing for debates is basically just staying current on the news and be prepared to answer in a serious way the questions that are asked of you — but also outlining a vision for America’s future," he said.