Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was hoping to use his visit to Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, in jail at the time for refusing to issue gay marriage licenses, as a way to boost his support among religious conservatives and bump his numbers in the polls.
Unfortunately for the Texas lawmaker, his fellow candidate Mike Huckabee had the same idea.
Upon exiting the jailhouse where the soon to released Davis was being held, a crowd of reporters beckoned Cruz to their microphones. But as the firebrand senator approached, an aide for Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, allegedly blocked his path.
Minutes later, Huckabee exited the jailhouse alongside the Rowan County clerk, and was front and center when the county clerk made a tearful speech to supporters that cast her court battle as a fight against religious oppression.
Cruz, on the other hand, looked incredulous as he was forced to stand on the sidelines while Huckabee took up the limelight.
A very sad Ted Cruz, not on stage. pic.twitter.com/MaAM6lvA4A
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 8, 2015
Both Cruz and Huckabee are the two most outspoken supporters of Davis, who has argued that she will not issue the marriage licenses because it goes against her faith as an apostolic Christian.
"It is important to Sen. Cruz for Kim Davis to know that he supports her and will do everything in his power to ensure her situation is resolved and that no other Americans who strive to live out their faith fall victim to religious persecution by the government," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement.
"The First Amendment – the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech and expression – is foundational to all other freedoms and Sen. Cruz is committed to defending it,” she added.
The Davis case has exposed a rift within the crowded Republican presidential field over the issue of faith and federal laws – especially when it comes to the Supreme Court ruling in June that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide.
"If somebody has to go to jail, I'm willing to go in her place," said Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and Arkansas governor. "She has shown more courage than any politician I know."
Five of Davis' six deputy clerks — all except her son, Nathan — agreed to issue licenses to gay couples with Davis behind bars. However, Davis' lawyer said on Tuesday that the licenses issued by her deputies are invalid.
Dan Canon, an attorney for the couples who sued, said they will ask the judge to again hold Davis in contempt if she returns to work and blocks her deputies from dispensing licenses.
"We are hoping she is going to comply with it. We'll have to see," Canon said. "But if experience is a teacher, Ms. Davis just doesn't believe that court orders apply to her."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.