“I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government,” Romney said in the first speech of its kind since his November election loss to Obama. “What would come next when soldiers aren’t paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty?”

He continued: “I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy. I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare.”

Romney did not criticize anyone by name, but he dismissed the very strategy employed by some of his party’s biggest names — potential 2016 presidential candidates among them. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah are urging Republicans to swear off voting for any year-end spending bill that includes money for the president’s health care law.