Marco Rubio: Trump's debate no-show may have helped me in Iowa

Story highlights

  • "I give us the best chance to take our message to people that haven't voted for us in the past," Marco Rubio says
  • "I can take the conservative movement to people who are living today the way I grew up."

Washington (CNN)Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he believes Donald Trump's decision to sit out last week's Republican debate may have boosted his surprisingly strong third-place finish in Iowa.

"I didn't have a lot of voters mention that to me, but I certainly think that could have been a factor," he said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
Rubio said voters have bought into his candidacy.
"I give us the best chance to take our message to people that haven't voted for us in the past -- and convince them that conservatism is better for them and better for America, so I think more and more people began to realize that as we got closer to voting day," he said.
Trump, who skipped last week's debate because of a dispute with Fox News, placed second in the caucuses, behind winner Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rubio also defended himself against Cruz's claims that he's the only conservative in the GOP race.
"I'm as conservative as anyone running for president and I believe I can grow the conservative movement," Rubio said. "I can take the conservative movement to people who are living today the way I grew up."
The Florida senator also touted the endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, citing their shared working-class background.
"Tim is a leader not just in South Carolina but around the country. He embodies the American Dream. He embodies so much of what our party needs to be about," Rubio said. "He doesn't come from a privileged background and neither do I and we are both conservatives because we know that conservatism is the right way forward -- especially for people who are trying to make it."