Washington (CNN) – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday if House conservatives don't get their way in the congressional standoff over the budget and debt, they'll be more revved up to fight harder in the coming years, not fade away.
The 2012 GOP presidential candidate and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" also predicted Obamacare will become the biggest political issue in next year's midterms, as well as the next presidential election.
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Gingrich further weighed in on John Boehner's speakership, as the House speaker in power during the last shutdowns of the federal government, in late 1995 and early 1996.
No time for surrender
Boehner was "struggling" to come up with enough votes Tuesday to pass a GOP counter-proposal to a bipartisan Senate plan. Gingrich argued that if the conservative faction of the party fails to get anti-Obamacare measures passed, they'll become further driven to keep fighting in the years to come.
"They will be more embittered, more angry. They will find more ways to go after Obama because they can't find any way to get him to negotiate," Gingrich said. "The reaction is not going to be, 'gee I guess we should surrender'."
Gingrich said he expects Obamacare to "decay rapidly" and become the defining issue of the 2014 and 2016 elections.
"If I were Boehner, I would say this was the beginning of the fight, this was the moment when we forced the country to start to pay attention," he said. "It's going to be an unending fight for three years."
He also anticipates Boehner will finish his current term as speaker, and Republicans will keep control of the House in next year's mid-terms.
No exit strategy
Reflecting on the tense weeks that led up to the government shutdown, which took effect on October 1, and on the ongoing situation as the government nears another deadline to avoid default, Gingrich pointed to two mistakes made by House Republicans: They lacked a clear communications strategy and a coherent exit strategy.
"I'm sure the senior people all understood that Obama was unlikely to dismantle his major legacy, so once you start down the fight to take care of your right wing, you better have a clear exit strategy that makes sense," he said. "I don't sense anybody had any exit strategy."
But most of the blame lies with the President and with Democrats. The recent standoff, he said, will further disenfranchise Congress from the White House down the road. "It's just going to be a mess. How does he call Boehner after this?"
How John Madden felt
So does a former speaker watching all the news unfold on Capitol Hill ever wish he had his old job back?
Not really. The Republican said the feeling is comparable to former NFL head coach and broadcaster John Madden's later-in-life job.
"He got to sit up on Sundays and Monday nights and he got to look down on the field and he got to tell you what it was like to be a coach, but I didn't sense any desire on John's part to go back down," he said.
As for any advice for Boehner, Gingrich said he's encouraging the Ohio Republican to "get a lot of sleep."
"Until you've tried, you cannot imagine the energy level it takes to try to do what Boehner is doing," he said. "It's actually I think the hardest job in the city."
Famous for being noisy
Gingrich also offered his input on why Democrats seem to be faring better than Republicans in public opinion polls.
"This has in my ways, I think, become a 'Kardashian culture,' in which you become a celebrity because you are noisy," he said, referring to the famous reality TV family.
The president has mastered the celebrity culture and an increasingly shorter news cycle, he said, adding that the media tends to favor the Democratic position.
"Obama's very good at politics and personality, and in a 'Kardashian culture,' that carries you an immense distance."