Rubio criticized Nelson's negative attacks as ineffective because they don't speak to the issues driving the election. "I just don't think it's going to be relevant," Rubio said. "I mean, he's been a member of Congress for a number of years now. He has a distinguished record serving there on the issues he's taken up. So that's what he's going to be judged on." With Florida positioned as one of the critical battleground states in this year's presidential election, Rubio predicted the Senate contest will be "a close race" that will be decided by the "national issues" being debated by the presidential candidates, including unemployment, entitlements, health care and national defense. On the last subject, Rubio sees an advantage for Mack, saying the congressman has "a unique niche carved out" on foreign policy issues. Rubio was quick to note another thing Mack has going for him: the name recognition he owes to his father, former Florida Sen. Connie Mack III. "Obviously many Floridians are familiar with his father, and that will help him because his father was a great U.S. Senator," Rubio said. "But Connie has his own record that's pretty impressive."