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Story highlights

Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz visited Kim Davis on Tuesday, the day she was released from jail

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he would have placed Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in another job rather than see her jailed

(CNN) —  

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee stood alongside Kentucky clerk Kim Davis on Tuesday shortly after she was released from jail, where she had been for the last five days over her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The former Arkansas governor hoisted her hands outside the Carter County Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon after meeting with the government official at the Carter County Detention Center. Davis was flanked by her attorney, but Huckabee at times emceed her theatrical arrival at the Kentucky rally, which was planned before news of her release broke.

“If somebody needs to go to jail, I’m willing to go in her place,” Huckabee told the crowd as he comforted an emotional Davis, who entered to the song, “Eye of the Tiger.”

The Republican presidential candidate, who has the support of some Christian supporters but is not seen as a top-tier contender, managed to break into the political spotlight Tuesday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had also traveled to Kentucky to meet with Davis, but he was not a part of the pro-Davis rally that appeared on live cable television.

“Praise God that Kim Davis is being released,” Cruz posted on his Facebook page. “It was an outrage that she was imprisoned for six days for living according to her Christian faith.”

RELATED: Judge orders Kim Davis released, bars her from withholding marriage licenses

Huckabee and Cruz – both courting the GOP’s base of social conservatives – have latched onto Davis as a symbol of the fight against government over reach after the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. Huckabee was planning to follow up his visit with a rally protesting her confinement, while Cruz originally had been scheduled to take questions from reporters on the ground.

Their visit has drawn criticism from some of their rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

“Frankly, I don’t think you should grandstand on this stuff,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning, referring to 2016 candidates planning to visit Davis.

“Look, everybody is entitled to their opinions, and I love Mike Huckabee and what he stands for. But I just think there’s bigger fish to fry here in terms of people understanding what faith in God really means,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich told reporters in Maine on Tuesday. “I don’t agree with Court’s decision but I had said I was going to accept the court’s decision.”

A judge on Tuesday ordered Davis to be released from the jail where she’s been behind bars since last Thursday. Saying that same-sex couples have been able to get the marriage licenses they sought once Davis was removed from her post, District Judge David Bunning lifted the contempt of court sanction against her.

RELATED: Read the judge’s order

He said that Davis is required to not in any way prevent her deputy clerks from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis had previously pleaded with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a fellow Democrat, to release her from jail. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s office said on Monday that he won’t respond, adding the conflict was a “matter between her and the courts.”

Also on Tuesday, her lawyers had filed a motion with the circuit court asking them to set aside the contempt order temporarily as her appeal works its way through the system.

One of her lawyers told CNN that, while her imprisonment was appealed, she was reading the Bible in jail and “exudes gentleness and peace.”

Christie on Tuesday offered an alternative to jailing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Move her to another job.

RELATED: Kim Davis asks Kentucky governor to free her in same-sex marriage case

“What I would do with this woman is to move her to another job where this is not an objection for her, because you have to follow the law, and the law is these licenses have to be issued,” Christie said on “Fox and Friends.” “If she has a religious objection we should move her to another job inside the government.”

And if she refused to switch positions?

“Then there’s going to be an issue, but I think we should give her an option to do another job where her religious concerns are not going to be put into the crosshairs on this. So we have to have respect for people, but the government also has to function,” he said.

Albeit a hypothetical situation, Christie would have trouble with his alternative proposal because clerks are elected in Kentucky.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis and Ed Payne contributed to this report.