Marco Rubio on debate criticism: There's a reason everyone is attacking me

Story highlights

  • The political world is watching to see if Marco Rubio's less-than-stellar debate reviews impact his political momentum
  • The Florida senator brushed off criticism in a brief interview with CNN

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)With the political world watching to see if Marco Rubio's less-than-stellar debate reviews impact his political momentum, the Florida senator brushed off criticism in a brief interview with CNN outside the Puritan Backroom Restaurant.

"Not just that debate, but every debate before it, I've shown consistently the ability to answer important and difficult questions I think in a very compelling way," Rubio said, when asked about charges from his GOP rivals that his performance raises questions about how strong a general election candidate he might be. "We raised more money after this debate than any debate we've ever had and we're excited about it. And there's a reason they attacked me more than anyone else."
"Hillary attacks me five times for every time she attacks another Republican," Rubio added.
The Florida Republican said his final pitch to voters is that he's "as conservative as anyone in this race" but is "the conservative that can unite the conservative movement. I can bring our party together; I can grow it."
Making a strong argument focused on electability, Rubio maintains that "Hillary Clinton doesn't want to run against me. I'm the one they don't want to run against and that's why they attack me more than anyone else."
"We can't afford to lose this election and if I'm the nominee, we won't," he said.
As he walked into Puritan Backroom Restaurant, Rubio passed by two activists with the liberal group American Bridge wearing cardboard boxes, dressed as "Marco Roboto" and "Rubio Talking Point 3000," a slam on Rubio's debate performance.
Rubio faced blistering criticism from his primary opponents following Saturday's ABC debate, where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused the Florida senator of using the same "memorized 20-second speech" for all of his answers.