[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/14/art.pencept0514.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Pence frequently describes himself as 'a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican – in that order.'"]
(CNN) – Speaking to a largely conservative audience, a Republican lawmaker said Friday that the country has been experiencing a moral crisis in addition to the economic crisis that began on Wall Street in late 2008.
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana gave an impassioned address to the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pence, who frequently describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican – in that order," said the GOP has been down on its luck in the wake of President Obama's historic election.
But Pence claimed that, in the last year, his party had experienced a reawakening. As evidence, he cited conservative protests against the president's policies and recent Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
Pence said that his party lost its way on the issue of fiscal discipline during the Bush administration. But told the gun rights supporters, "My party – Republicans in Congress – we're back in the fight and we're back in the fight on the right."
Pence also said that fixing the country's financial problems and retaking the reins of power in Washington would not be enough to fix, what he sees, as the nation's ills.
"…A vision for a better America will also recognize that our present crisis is not merely economic and political but moral in nature.
"At the root of these times, should be a realization that people in positions of authority have walked away from the timeless truths of honesty and integrity, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, and the simple idea that a person ought to treat the other person the way they want to be treated," Pence said.
And as he claimed that the country is headed in the wrong under the president, Pence talked about putting the country on a different track.
"We will not restore this nation with public policy alone. It will require public virtue and that emanates from our most cherished institutions: family and religion.
"To renew this nation, we must renew the institutions that strengthen her character. We must stand for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and the vital importance of religion in our everyday lives."
Pence also used his remarks to question whether Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would sufficiently adhere to the Constitution. And Pence promised the conservative activists that House Republicans would not rest until they succeeded in repealing the recently enacted health care bill.