From NBC's Lea Sutton
GOP Sen. Scott Brown, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were the key speakers at today's National Lawyers Association's conference in Washington, DC.
Gingrich may have delivered the quote of the day when he said, "I think this country is on the edge of a rebellion." In a follow-up with an audience member, he clarified saying: "When I said a rebellion, I meant a political rebellion -- exactly what Jefferson called for."
As he did at last week's Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Gingrich described the current administration as a "secular, socialist regime" -- citing the health-care law (which he wants to repeal) as an example. He also said he believes the GOP will win in 2010 and 2012, but that it needs to become the "party of yes."
And Gingrich was asked about his desire for a 2012 White House run. Gingrich responded that he hadn't made up his mind and that it would be a family decision.
Brown, meanwhile, focused his speech on fiscal responsibility in Congress, bipartisanship, and how we treat "people who want to kill us" (i.e., terrorism). On fiscal responsibility, he said that lawmakers in Washington often aren't people who pay bills, and he wants to "bring common sense back to Washington." Brown, for instance, said doesn't support the legislation extending unemployment benefits because "it's not paid for."
On bipartisanship, Brown said it is very difficult to get parties talking again after events like the contentious debate over the health care law. But he wants to bridge relationships. "I told leaders when I voted cross-party that there needs to be some reciprocity." He added, "Am I hopeful? Yes. But the way they're trying to score political points is shameful, and I'm hoping we can do better."
Ashcroft said it is damaging when the U.S. signals a lack of clarity to the world in how it deals with terrorists who are detained on the battlefield. He talked about how he felt the Obama administration undermined the integrity of military commissions, referring to how military commissions have been effectively used in the past. And he expressed concerns about the legal issues of closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying the courts will be "tempted to say 'no matter where you take them, our jurisdiction follows.'"