Sen. Marco Rubio threw his support behind Tesla Motors during a CNBC appearance Tuesday morning, comparing the efforts to block the electric car maker's direct sales model to using regulation as a "defensive weapon."
Speaking on CNBC's "Squawk Box," the Florida Republican said he has no problem allowing Tesla to bypass independent car dealerships and sell directly to consumers in his home state.
"It's an established product," Rubio said. "Customers should be allowed to buy products that fit their need, especially a product that we know is safe and has consumer confidence beneath it."
Rubio made his comments two weeks after New Jersey officials voted to block Tesla's direct sales in the state, after aggressive lobbying from the car dealer lobby. Car dealers in New York state have also began lobbying state officials to prohibit Tesla from selling cars through its own brick-and-mortar showrooms.
Tesla's fight against the dealership lobby represents a larger struggle between enterprise and government regulation, Rubio said. The lawmaker told CNBC he planned to file a bill Tuesday that puts a hard limit on how much government regulation can cost the U.S. economy each budget cycle.
On Monday, Rubio visited the Washington, D.C., offices of black-car service app Uber to show his support for company as it fights entrenched taxi and limo companies in Seattle and elsewhere.
"Regulations should never be used as a defensive weapon by an established industry or an established company," Rubio told CNBC.
Asked to explain why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a fellow Republican, signed off on the Tesla ban, Rubio said: "I don't know. You'll have to ask him."