Washington (CNN) - With Mitt Romney in Florida Monday to endorse his Senate bid, Marco Rubio spoke charitably about the health care plan that Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts – a plan many conservatives have called a blueprint for the health care bill recently signed into law by President Obama.
In an interview with The National Review after their joint rally in Tampa, Rubio called Romney's health care plan "a work in progress."
The libertarian Cato Institute last week described the Obama and Romney plans as "identical." Both plans, for instance, mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. Rubio has called the Obama mandate unconstitutional and supports a joint federal lawsuit to overturn the new law.
Rubio suggested in the interview that the mandate in Romney's plan is more palatable because it is a state-driven solution, instead of a federal plan forced on the states.
"All I would say to you is that states were designed to be laboratories for creative thoughts and ideas," Rubio said. "That's what the Framers of our great republic intended. They wanted the states to be the places that came up with innovation and competition."
Rubio, accusing the president of taking a step toward single-payer system, said there are "major distinctions between what's happening in Washington and what I hope states will do."
He also echoed familiar Romney arguments on how the Massachusetts plan differs from the Obama plan.
"There are major distinctions between that and what Obama is trying to do in Washington," Rubio said. "For one, it didn't raise any taxes. Number two, it is not adding to our deficit. That is my biggest objection to Obamacare, although there are many others. My number-one objection to Obamacare is that we can't afford it, even if it was the greatest idea in the world."