IS THE GOP AFRAID TO GOVERN?…. In April, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) was speculating about his expectations for the midterm elections. With Republican hopes sky-high, Sessions said anything less than a GOP takeover of the House is worth “a warm bucket of spit.”

The message has changed quite a bit since April.

Last month, NRCC Recruitment Chair Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that some leading Republicans have told him privately that they want to make gains — but not enough to actually get a majority. This attitude is apparently more widespread than I’d expected.

Republicans have been engaging in some premature drape-measuring for a few months in anticipation of winning back control of the House of Representatives. Some top GOP aides privately admit that they got ahead of themselves.

Turns out, not all Republicans are rooting for their own to win the House.

“I want Republicans to make massive gains but I want them to fall one vote short of taking the House,” said Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary to President George W. Bush. “I want to see more evidence that Republicans are ready to govern. I want to see more substance, particularly on what spending they will cut.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who has been tasked with recruiting candidates by House Minority Leader John Boehner, confirmed that this view is held by numerous party operatives and leaders, though none in Congress.

There are apparently a variety of factors driving this motivation — including the notion that President Obama would be more likely to win a second term if he ran against a GOP House — but the core concern seems to be that governing next year will be hard, and their proposed cuts might spark a backlash, so Republicans might as well let Dems worry about doing the heavy lifting.

DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan said fear of holding the House is a sign that “Republicans aren’t interested in producing solutions to America’s problems.”

I think this truth was already apparent, but I suppose it’s helpful to have another reminder.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.