Maddow: Religious Freedom Law Killed Mike Pence's Presidential Prospects

05/20/2015 10:25 am ET | Updated May 20, 2015

How the mighty have fallen.

Once high on the list of contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will now have to fight just to keep his office. Rachel Maddow detailed Pence’s fall from grace on her show Tuesday, saying the national uproar over the state’s religious freedom law has made Pence’s "prospects for re-election in his home state ... a little iffy."

"He’s been a Republican Party darling forever," Maddow began the segment. But "that backlash shook Indiana and shook Mike Pence so visibly, it seems like sometimes he might just seize up and fall over."

Pence announced this week that he is running for re-election as governor of Indiana, which presumably means he won’t be running for president.

It’ll be a tough campaign.

In March, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed individuals or corporations to cite "religious beliefs" as a defense in a lawsuit. Critics of the bill said it would sanction discrimination against the LGBT community.

Faced with a backlash that included a nationwide boycott, Pence signed a revised bill that barred businesses from refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"But really, the damage was done," Maddow pointed out. Pence’s favorability dropped from 52 percent to 35 percent following the controversy.

"I've been covering Indiana politics for three decades, and I don't recall a sitting governor experiencing that kind of decline over this short period of time like we've seen here," pollster Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana said at the time.

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