Boston (CNN) – Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich reprimanded his fellow Republicans in unusually harsh terms Wednesday, blaming GOP members of Congress for developing "zero" alternatives to President Obama's health care reform law.
Gingrich, who was speaking at the opening session of the Republican National Committee's summer meeting, fielded a question about "Obamacare" and recalled that Republicans were able to block Bill Clinton's health care reform effort in 1994 because they had "a positive alternative approach" to health care.
But Republicans today have nothing comparable to offer, Gingrich told nearly the 200 state party chairs, operatives and activists gathered in Boston for the conference.
"I will bet you, for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks when your members of Congress are home, and you look them in the eye and you say, 'What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?' They will have zero answer," Gingrich said.
Gingrich blamed the problem on Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and "being positive."
"We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don't have to learn anything," Gingrich said, acknowledging the "totally candid" nature of his remarks. "We have to do the homework."
"This is a very deep problem," said Gingrich, who was recently named one of the hosts of CNN's political talk show "Crossfire."
Gingrich's remarks were pegged to his forthcoming book "Breakout," which calls on Republicans to embrace new technologies and policies in an effort to become a party of the future.
President Obama also accused Republicans of having no health care plan during a White House press conference last week, a claim that was met with disdain by House Republican leaders who circulated a series of health care ideas to reporters after the president's remarks.
A number of prominent conservatives in the House and Senate are pushing to shut down the federal government in a bid to de-fund the president's health care law when Congress takes up a government spending measure in late September.
Asked if he agreed with Gingrich's arguments, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said "not completely." He pointed to a number of piecemeal health care proposals available on the web sites of House Republican leaders.
Priebus said he supports repealing or de-funding Obamacare, but pressed on whether he would support a government shutdown to accomplish those goals, Priebus said he did not want to debate tactics.