October 29, 2015 11:50 AM EDT

Marco Rubio continued to defend his missed votes in the Senate on Thursday, using the morning after a strong debate performance to argue that his spotty attendance record is all in the service of stopping Hillary Clinton from winning the White House.

“As far as votes, I don’t like missing votes, I hate it,” Rubio said on CNN. “We do our best effort to make it—we’ve canceled campaign events, especially for important votes, and we will definitely be there for any vote in which our vote would be decisive on making a difference on the outcome.”

“Here’s what I would hate more, and that is to wake up on the first Wednesday of November in 2016 to the news that Hillary Clinton has been elected President of the United States,” Rubio added.

Rubio has been on the defensive since a Florida newspaper called for his resignation because he had missed 59 Senate votes while running for president. Republican rival and fellow Floridian Jeb Bush picked up the attack line during Wednesday night’s debate, but Rubio swung back and was widely credited as having gotten the better of the exchange.

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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