Spin Cycle

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ALBANY - Republican presidential candidate George Pataki said Thursday he would have fired Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who cited her religious beliefs in denying marriage certificates to gay couples, because she broke her oath of office.

Pataki, the former three-term New York governor, said on CNN's New Day program that Davis' actions were "simply wrong" and that government officials can't pick and choose which laws to enforce. Pataki also questioned whether there would an "outpouring" support if a Muslim had refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.

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"I would have fired her. No question about it," Pataki told host Chris Cuomo. "You take an oath when you go in to public office -- that you are going to uphold the laws and enforce the laws. And it's not the laws you agree with. It's not the laws you don't have an objection to. It is all the laws.

"And I think what think what has happened in Kentucky is simply wrong," Pataki continued. "I don't think she should have been put in jail. But to stand up there and say I'm going to refuse to do perform my duty because I disagree with the law?  Suppose it was a Muslim ... Would we be seeing this outpouring if he had said Sharia law doesn't allow me to provide for a gay wedding, a gay marriage certificate? You have to obey the law. ... You cannot have a clerk that refuses to follow the Supreme Court."

After a judge ordered Davis to jail, her deputies began issuing the marriage licenses themselves. Davis served five days before being released and is scheduled to return to work.

Pataki is one of 17 hopefuls set to participate in the Republicans' second debate, set for next week in California.