On Tuesday, a reporter asked Pence if he anticipated the political fallout of the new law, which is set to take effect July 1. “Heavens, no,” a befuddled Pence responded.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Pence is in a political freefall, after flubbing Sunday’s appearance and failing to outline a legislative fix. But GOP consultant Rick Wilson said that he already plans to use the ABC clip as a textbook example in his media training seminars for not accepting the premise of a hostile interview. “He was like a prizefighter in the peak of his form—really well done, as efficient and cold-blooded as I’ve ever seen,” Wilson said. 

Whether Pence is presidential timber might not matter: Pence has already instructed his closest advisers to prepare for a gubernatorial election campaign, and state law forbids him from running for both offices at the same time. And he has staffed up with hires from Indiana, not from Iowa or New Hampshire.

With strong approval ratings 14 months away from May 2016, it’s unlikely Pence—who until recently has been cast as a lock for reelection—will fancy a serious primary. No 2016ers have yet criticized his support for the law. And Pence could emerge from this crisis a conservative folk hero. Pence’s national political capital, Conway says, has generated supportive texts and calls from friends. “Part of why they’re supporting him is because of his own political capital,” Conway says.