LITTLE ROCK — Mike Huckabee was taking questions from reporters in Little Rock on Wednesday when he was asked about his fondness for making quips — and whether he thought he should try to tone it down during his second presidential bid.

LITTLE ROCK — Mike Huckabee was taking questions from reporters in Little Rock on Wednesday when he was asked about his fondness for making quips — and whether he thought he should try to tone it down during his second presidential bid.


"It’s not that I like to do it, it’s, I can’t help myself sometimes," Huckabee said.


The former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher also said, "You wouldn’t like me if I were as colorless as you’re hoping me to be."


The most recent Huckabee joke to make headlines was one he made in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tenn., in February that dealt with sexual identification and transgender people. A video of the speech appeared Tuesday on BuzzFeed News.


"I wish someone had told me when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in P.E. I’m pretty sure I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today,’" Huckabee told the group.


The joke prompted outrage from supporters of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.


"He may have launched his campaign in Hope, but his mockery of transgender citizens is a clear indicator that Huckabee’s vision for America is one that tolerates hate," said JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaign.


When asked Wednesday if he stood by the joke, Huckabee noted that he was not a presidential candidate when he made it and said he is focused on other issues now.


Controversy over a joke is nothing new for Huckabee, whose tendency to reference touchy subjects in jest is well documented. A few examples:


— In 2000, he told national radio personality Don Imus that he was concerned about possible ballot fraud in Arkansas and said the state was like a "banana republic."


— In 2006, in another Imus interview, Huckabee said his weight loss was the result of a stay in "a concentration camp" run by Democrats.


— In 2007, Huckabee said during a television interview, regarding presidential candidates’ campaign spending, "If I were some of these guys who have spent tens of millions of dollars and weren’t any further ahead, I’d have to be sitting in a warm tub of water with some razor blades in both hands at this point."


— In 2008, during a speech to a National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Ky., Huckabee said after an offstage noise, "That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he’s getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor."


— In 2011, in a speech in Mason, Ohio, in support of a state ballot measure on limiting collective bargaining by public employees, Huckabee urged supporters to call friends and family and ask if they were going to vote yes, "and if they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date."


— This year, in his book "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy," Huckabee says in reference to the screening process at airports, "After years of this indignity, much of the flying public thinks little of it, and they usually don’t complain. They just dutifully stand there, bend over, and take it like a prisoner." The line appears in a chapter titled, "Bend Over and Take It Like a Prisoner!"


All of the above remarks drew criticism, and with the rise of social media it is easier than ever before for an off-the-cuff remark to be disseminated. Is it time for Huckabee to rein in the edgy one-liners?


"I think if he starts to take off, he’s going to have to mute some of that and tone some of that down," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


But Yepsen said that for now, he can’t see Huckabee being knocked out of the race for his quips.


"It’s Huckabee. It’s entertaining. And it does play up to a certain social conservative base vote that he’s courting," he said.


Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College, said Huckabee’s jovial, winking delivery, a style he has perfected over decades, probably helps him get away with comments that would be more damaging if said by other candidates. He also said some voters may be drawn to a candidate who is not carefully packaged and controlled.


"There’s an authenticity, and I think in particular most of the quips are ones that further connect him with the Christian right base. I think it does serve him well in terms of getting him attention and in some cases probably resonating with that core audience," said Barth, who is active in the Democratic Party.


"But I think it really limits him in having any reach beyond that core audience," he added. "That’s the Huckabee challenge with this iteration of his presidential candidacy, that in a field this large he may have difficulty making a reach beyond his very core audience."