From NBC's Shawna Thomas
House GOP freshmen came out of an early morning meeting with former Speaker (and potential presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich -- not talking about his personal experience with a government shutdown, but rather about effective communication and defunding the health-care law.
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) said the message was messaging, "It's about messaging. It's about communicating. I think that's the thing that he talked to us about." (Of course, Gingrich has had messaging problems of his own in explaining his differing positions on Libya.)
When pushed on whether the former speaker talked about a shutdown, freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) said, "He said it's definitely not, you know, something that we want to have."
Gingrich later came out and reviewed much of what he talked about to the freshman, which sounded a lot like the beginnings of a stump speech. The topics covered:
-- "Smart ways to get to a balanced budget that fits the general direction of Paul Ryan";
-- "Bold new approaches on health including a process of using health solutions to reduce health costs";
-- "How really important it was to communicate to our activists and to our base that the primary problem is the 23 Democratic senators that are up for re-election and the Democratic president in the White House";
-- "Absolute commitment to defunding Obamacare implementation this year."
However, when it comes to the impending government shutdown, Gingrich suggested that the members are going to have to find some type of compromise. "Their goal should be to avoid a shutdown while not giving in on their core principles. They can't walk into a room and have President Obama think that they can be blackmailed by yelling the word shutdown." The former speaker continued, "I think they should seek to keep the government open. I think they should try to find ways to pass continuing resolutions that can be signed."
He blamed Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for the rumors that there is some kind of spending deal on the table. "There is no compromise. Nobody has signed off on it. It hasn't gone through the Republican conference. Hoyer's running around desperately trying find a way to get Republican's to sell out without a fight. Well, nice try, Steny. It's not going to happen."
What did happen this morning were compliments for Speaker John Boehner seizing upon the issue of spending. "I think, overall, he's [Boehner] done a pretty good job in the starting round. And I think they've set the stage to stay on the spending issue. I think the spending issue is a huge loser for the Democrats."
But Gingrich followed that up with another glimpse of what he might say on the campaign trail. "I think the degree to which Obama is utterly irresponsible and totally refusing to provide any leadership on spending is something that gradually sinks in with the country."