Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) on Friday warned the United States is facing a civilizational crisis but acknowledged his own "failures" make him unworthy of offering advice on how to fix them.
"In many ways I recognize the ways in which I am unworthy of offering my opinion or my perspective on a whole host of things given my failures in 2009," said Sanford, alluding to his affair with an Argentinian woman that derailed his marriage as well as his presidential ambitions.
"And yet in some ways, I don't want to spend the rest of my life worrying about the log in my own eye before I worry about the speck in anybody else's or the speck on any other issue out there."
Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, was elected to Congress last month in a special election, defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. He had previously served in Congress in the 1990s.
Sanford said he initially turned down the invitation of Faith & Freedom Coalition Director Ralph Reed to speak at the group's conference. But the Republican lawmaker said he was convinced by a staffer that he should seize the opportunity that the "God of second chances" has given him to speak out again.
"And for that reason, I humbly and respectfully step forward to present two ideas," he said. "We, at a gut level, really need to realize that we are at a tipping point the likes of which this civilization has never seen based on internal challenges as opposed to external challenges. And two, I would simply ask every one of you to really focus on spending."
The audience gave him tepid applause at the beginning and end of his speech and stayed notably silent during most of his speech.
The speech was Sanford's first major address since he completed his improbable political comeback to reclaim the House seat he'd held prior to becoming South Carolina's governor.
Sanford ignored the mixed reaction from the crowd, warning that the country is at a "tipping point" because of spending after mixing in a bevy of historical quotes and analogies.