Spokane, Washington (CNN) - In an election year colored by sharp rhetoric and voter anger, Dino Rossi's mellow demeanor could be viewed as a drawback in his race against Sen. Patty Murray in Washington.
His laid-back disposition was on display in Thursday's debate in Spokane, the first of two between the candidates, which saw a feisty Murray defending her votes in Washington while Rossi responded with a combination of shrugs and serene criticism of government spending.
Rossi, though, defended his style on Friday, calling it an asset in a time of great political polarization.
"Sometimes people mistake my calm demeanor and affable style for a lack of passion, but that's usually to their detriment," said Rossi, a former state senator and two-time gubernatorial candidate. "I understand what we need to do and why we need to do it and I clearly state it."
Unlike some other GOP Senate nominees who have emerged this cycle promising to fight the Obama administration tooth and nail, Rossi said he sees himself as a consensus builder.
"It's also the style that's allowed me to work across the aisle with conservative Democrats when I was balancing budgets as a state senator," he told CNN. "Hopefully I can lend those skills in Washington D.C. because we see just sheer partisanship back there. Which I think has to end, it's not good for the country. Some of these problems are just two big for one party to solve."