Republicans say Boehner’s biggest breakthrough came at a two-day House GOP retreat in Virginia. With his restless caucus shut away from distractions, he lined up speakers from inside and outside Congress to help explain what he saw as fiscal and political realities.

In a speech a few days later, Boehner summarized the case he made to his colleagues. In the upcoming debates over taxes and deficit spending, he said, Republicans must decide “where’s the ground that we fight on? Where’s the ground that we retreat on? Where are the smart fights?”…

A daylong session began with Boehner explaining what he saw as the financial and political “facts about the debt ceiling,” a participant said. Next up were his top lieutenants, to amplify his remarks and discuss possible options: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s vice presidential nominee last year.

They left no doubt of the party hierarchy’s allegiance to Boehner.