Instead, he said, conservatism is "about gratitude, and cooperation, and trust, and above all hope."
Lee previously said he makes "no apologies" for championing the effort to tie defunding Obamacare to government funding negotiations, which created a rift between the party's more extreme members and moderates. In the shutdown's immediate aftermath, the senator found himself facing backlash in Utah while polls showed him slipping in popularity.
But in his speech, the Utah Republican pushed back against the notion that his effort to derail the health care law harmed the GOP.
"Too many in Washington seem to believe that on any issue, Republicans should either have one plan — one that everyone supports in lockstep — or no plans," he said in his remarks. "But unity cannot come at the expense of creativity."
[h/t Garance Franke-Ruta]