Even so, while many prominent Republicans hesitate to declare the firestorm over, they see it as a tempest in a teapot — a minor flare-up that’s unlikely to damage Pence’s long-shot presidential prospects on the off-chance that he decides to run, and one that certainly won’t damage his chances of winning reelection as governor in deep-red Indiana.

“The great myth of this is that it’s a bunch of social conservatives or Christian conservatives [defending the governor],” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol says, noting that “a lot of libertarians also want to defend the principle” of religious liberty. “I think he actually has an opportunity to make both a socially conservative and libertarian case here,” Kristol continues. “Both for the religious freedom act and for freedom generally.”

“I think this is definitely an issue he can recover from,” says one longtime Pence associate. “I think there are a lot of people [in Indiana] who feel bad for him, who are with him and realize he’s in a tough spot.”