While the other candidates in the first round of the second GOP debate were discussing religion, George Pataki's comment on Kim Davis seriously broke away from the official Republican line. The question posed to the candidates actually referenced Ahmed Mohamed, the teenager arrested earlier this week when teachers mistook a clock he made for a bomb. But answering the question "How do you strike a balance between security vigilance and anti-Muslim discrimination?" quickly devolved into a discussion of religion and Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to grant marriage licenses.
Though he didn't comment on Mohamed, Pataki had a perfect response to the Davis subject. "I think [Kim Davis] should have been fired," Pataki said. "And if she had worked for me, I would have fired her." These comments were in stark contrast to those of the rest of the candidates, who stressed national security concerns and referenced extremist suicide bombers. Pataki was the only one on the stage who did not jump onto the Davis train: "We have one rule of law in America: An elected official can't say that I'm not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs."
This wasn't the first time Pataki has made this statement. When news first broke that Davis was going to be jailed for contempt of court, he Tweeted a similar sentiment. But what makes Pataki's stance so interesting isn't that he broke party line, but that he took it a step further. "Imagine for a minute that was a Muslim who said 'I don't believe in gay marriage' and refused to perform that wedding. We wouldn't have had that outrage," Pataki said. "There is a place where religion supersedes the rule of law. It's called Iran. it shouldn't be the United States." Though it isn't necessarily the argument that many of Davis' opponents would use, it was equally as effective.
Although Pataki has established himself as a moderate candidate, the departure from the party line may not bode well for his campaign. But he seems prepared to take that gamble. At least someone on the GOP stage appealed to reason.