Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments made by Mike Huckabee.
Did Ted Cruz crash Mike Huckabee's rally for the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses?
That's the view of at least one of the Republican presidential campaigns represented Tuesday in Grayson, Ky., where Kim Davis, locked up for about five days, emerged from jail to a boisterous rally led by Huckabee. Minutes earlier, the Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor appeared alongside a just-released Davis before reporters in a made-for-TV moment.
Not pictured with Davis and Huckabee: Cruz, who had also traveled to Grayson to see Davis in a show of support consistent with his aggressive appeals to Christian evangelical voters. It was Huckabee, however, who stole the show, and on Wednesday, his campaign suggested that was not exactly a coincidence.
"It was our event," Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said. "And Ted Cruz shows up, and you need to be asking him why he showed up at our event."
Appearing Wednesday morning on Fox News, Huckabee also suggested Cruz was not part of the original plan for the rally.
"We were kind of surprised that he showed up, but you know, once he was there, we invited him to come and meet with her, so I’m not sure what the controversy is," Huckabee said. "The program, of course, was already settled, and I’m happy that he was able to come and show his support for her, even if it was at the last minute."
A Cruz spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but his campaign had said Tuesday morning he did not plan to be "part of Huckabee's event." He nonetheless appeared interested in joining Davis and Huckabee for their news conference, according to video aired Wednesday night on MSNBC.
In the footage, Cruz exits the Carter County Detention Center, where Davis was being held, and heads toward the microphones where Huckabee later broadcast alongside the clerk. However, Cruz quickly runs into a Huckabee staffer who points him in another direction, setting off a roughly 15-second back-and-forth followed by Cruz repeatedly trying to maneuver around the staffer. Cruz, appearing dumbfounded by the situation, ultimately follows the staffer offscreen.
Stewart said her campaign had been organizing the rally since Thursday, when Davis was arrested after refusing to comply with a federal court order to issue the marriage licenses. Huckabee's campaign had an organizer on the ground in Kentucky for several days, and Stewart said she had spent her Labor Day weekend helping out.
It was not until Tuesday morning that Cruz's campaign announced he would travel to Grayson to meet with Davis and speak with reporters outside the jail. The senator's campaign suggested the trip was not a last-minute decision, noting Cruz had expressed interest in visiting Davis in jail upon first learning of her arrest, and Tuesday was the best day to do so with Congress returning from its August recess.
On Wednesday, Huckabee was expected to continue his advocacy for Davis with a news conference in Abilene. Huckabee is visiting Cruz's home state for a fundraising swing that also includes a stop in Midland, Stewart said.