Ryan: 'Creative Tension' is Good for GOP

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Republican Rep. Paul Ryan urges conservatives to give each other “the benefit of the doubt.”Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan said Thursday that reports of a civil war within the GOP are overrated.

Speaking at the CPAC conference in Washington D.C., the former vice presidential candidate said that he sees internal debate within the Republican party as “creative tension,” not as a “big divide.”

Ryan urged conservatives to give each other “the benefit of the doubt” as they chart a course towards the 2014 midterms and beyond.

At a gathering full of plenty of notable personalities –Donald Trump and NRA head Wayne LaPierre will speak later today – Ryan said Republicans should focus on policy, not celebrity.

“Let the other party be the party of personalities,” he said. “We will be the party of ideas.”

Ryan, who has tried to shape conservative economic policy as House budget chief, said that Democrats have failed to understand Americans’ desire to work towards success.

“What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul,” he said. “The American people want more than that.”

NBC's Katie Wall contributed.