"The fact that they are swirling and squirming and spinning on Medicare shows that they all know they've stepped into a hole," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who leads the Democrats' messaging operation, told TPM. "I think they have not figured out their way out of this Medicare situation."
Conservatives are already openly dreading seeing Gingrich's remarks pop up in Democratic messaging as they head into an election cycle likely centered on the Republican budget.
"I think every one of these Republican candidates running for the House is going to have a Democratic opponent who's going to run an ad that you can write today," columnist Charles Krauthammer told FOX News. "It's going to start: 'Even the conservative Newt Gingrich, the former leader of the Republicans in the House, says it's 'radical,' it's 'social engineering.'"
Among elected officials, Republican pushback against Gingrich has focused in no small part on his giving comfort and aid to the enemy right as they enter their budget fight.
"With allies like that, who needs the left?" Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham yesterday.
Their fears seem well founded. At today's White House briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney used a question on Newt to take an easy dig at the GOP's Medicare plan.
"Without wading into a dispute between Republicans, I would note that the former speaker of the House once said that he hoped to see Medicare wither on the vine and yet his position is now seen as too far to the left by some people in his party," he said.
On the House side, the DCCC has been quick to jump on Gingrich's remarks, giddily passing on news stories on Republican divisions over Medicare to reporters within hours of Newt's Meet The Press appearance.
"When even former Speaker Newt 'Let Medicare Wither on the Vine' Gingrich says the House Republican plan to end Medicare is too extreme, you know just how big a liability their budget is to the 235 House Republicans who - under pressure from Speaker John Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan - voted to end Medicare and protect Big Oil," one email from a DCCC spokesman read.