WASHINGTON -- Eager to appeal to their social conservative base, GOP presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz headed to Kentucky on Tuesday to meet with Rowan County clerk Kim Davis.
They may have missed their chance for a dramatic jailhouse visit, since the federal judge who put Davis behind bars for contempt of court last week ordered her immediate release on Tuesday.
But Huckabee is scheduled to appear at a 3 p.m. rally on her behalf. The former Arkansas governor, who had urged his supporters to sign a "Free Kim Davis" petition, announced his plans to visit Davis last week.
Cruz was a bit slower out of the gate. The Texas senator announced that he would be meeting with the clerk who won't sign marriage licenses for gay couples only shortly before the judge set her free.
The judge has also ordered Davis not to interfere with her deputy clerks, who began issuing marriage licenses to all couples in her absence.
Davis, who is an Apostolic Christian, created a national stir when she defied the judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that doing so would violate her religious beliefs. She held firm even when the Supreme Court denied her plea to intervene. She was subsequently held in contempt of court and, rather than being simply fined as requested by the couples who sued her, was placed behind bars. The judge said at the time that he thought her supporters would cover any financial penalty for her.
Hundreds of those supporters gathered before the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky, on Saturday to praise Davis. It's unclear whether she will join Huckabee at Tuesday's rally.
Huckabee and Cruz, who have often rallied to social conservative causes, ardently oppose same-sex marriage. Both men have stressed the importance of religious liberty in their presidential campaigns.