Rubio vs. Walker: Why a Senator Thinks Governors Might Not Be Good Presidents

PHOTO: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, left, speak in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 28, 2012. Sen. Marco Rubio, right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 17, 2014.AP Photo
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, left, speak in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 28, 2012. Sen. Marco Rubio, right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 17, 2014.

On the heels of a midterm cycle where public ire surged, anti-Washington sentiment is high nationwide – and some pundits have suggested that in 2016, a governor, rather than a legislator, might be more palatable to voters fed up with bickering in Washington.

But at a conservative forum moderated by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, one senator with possible presidential ambitions made a strong case for senatorial leadership:

“I think the No. 1 obligation of the federal government is the national security of the United States in conducting its foreign policy,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who appears to be preparing to mount his own bid for the White House.

“I do think having experience but also a seriousness about the breadth and scope of the challenges we face which are much more difficult than they were 25 years ago” is important for a potential president, he said.

This isn’t the first time Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has touted his foreign policy experience – but as ABC's Karl pointed out, his potential 2016 rivals remain unconvinced.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also thought to be contemplating a bid for the presidency in 2016, told Karl in November that the Republican nominee has “got to be an outsider.”

“I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor, people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward,” Walker told Karl.

“Well, if I was a governor I'd say the same thing,” Rubio said Sunday night, as laughter rippled through the audience.

“It is important for the next president of the United States to understand the diversity of the challenges, to have a global strategic vision and an understanding of what the U.S.' role in it,” said Rubio. “Now does that mean that, you, a governor, can't acquire that? Of course they could. But I would also say that, you know, taking a trip to some foreign city for two days does not make you Henry Kissinger either.”

And Rubio couldn’t resist a jab at the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton:

“I think it would be a mistake to elect as president the architect of the Obama foreign policy,” he said. “That would be a terrible mistake.”