Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.) on Thursday refused to say whether Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE would keep America safe as president or whether the Republican nominee is a good role model for children.

“The military is what keeps [the country] safe,” Rubio, who is up for reelection, told reporters in Naples, Fla., when asked about the New York billionaire.


“We have to rebuild our military, and [Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Clintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE] is a supporter of the defense cuts and the sequester which would be damaging to our country,” the former GOP presidential candidate added.

Rubio, who suspended his own 2016 run in March, also repeatedly avoided answering questions about Trump as a role model.

“People know I have strong disagreements with both candidates in this race,” he said. "I think Hillary Clinton would be a terrible role model in terms of the things she has done while in office.

“She destroyed emails and evidence while she was under investigation,” Rubio added of the former secretary of State’s personal email server. "And her policies are bad, too."

Rubio, who leads in polling against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, added a Republican-led Congress is needed as a check on whoever becomes the next president.

“Like most Americans, people look at this and say, ‘These are not ideal choices,’” he said. "How do we wind up in the greatest country in the history of the world with two choices that people are very unhappy with? But that was the result of the Republican primary we had.

“We’re still going to have [a] House and Senate that will pass laws and budgets hopefully, and a president that will execute them, and that check and balance, it works, it’s what’s kept our republic for over 240 years. We’re going to need to have a strong Senate.”

CNN said Rubio did not mention Trump’s name during a roughly 10-minute speech in Naples late Thursday despite having endorsed the real estate mogul. Like many Republican senators up for reelection, Rubio has struggled with how much to distance himself from his party's standard-bearer in the wake a 2005 recording that showed Trump making lewd and aggressive comments about women.