HENNIKER, N.H. -- After a town hall at New England College, Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) separated himself from the Republicans who are promising to tear up the nuclear deal with Iran -- and the smaller number who have expressed some sympathy for a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses.
The Iran agreement just today won enough Senate support to sustain a presidential veto if Congress votes against it, but no one at the town hall mentioned it until the press scrum. Kasich told Politico's Eli Stokols that he would want to see the status of the deal, and Iran's adherence, in January 2017.
"If it passes, if we see one violation of that agreement, I would slap on sanctions even if it's unilateral," he said. "And if I were president, I would hope it wouldn't be unilateral, because the Europeans are experiencing an awful lot of pressure over there, in many different ways. If the security of the United States and our allies are threatened, it's a whole new ball game."
Asked if that mean he would not "tear up" the deal, Kasich said he didn't "know what that means." Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have said they would terminate the deal; Donald Trump has opposed it while conceding that "ripping it up" would be difficult.
"What I will tell you if they are violating the agreement, at that point, I would slap on the sanctions and try to convince other people to do it," said Kasich. "But I'm not going to project that the Senate won't do that. You never know."
In a subsequent interview with The Washington Post, Kasich was even more dismissive of another headline-grabbing issue: Asked about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who's refusing to issue marriage licenses, Kasich stopped the question.
"I've taken my position on it," he said. "Glad you didn't touch on any hot button issues!"
Afterward, a spokesman said that Kasich was referring to his reaction to Obergefell v. Hodges. After saying that the decision "disappointed" him, Kasich ruled out any discussion of countermeasures.
"We'll honor what the Supreme Court does," he said. "It's the law of the land. It's the way that America functions."
In other words: Kasich wanted Kim Davis to do her job. And he didn't want to "tear up" the Iran deal. But he wasn't going to wade in to either issue.