LITTLE ROCK — Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Wednesday his comment earlier this year that he wished he could have pretended to be transgender in high school so he could shower with girls has stirred up the media but not the general public.

LITTLE ROCK — Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Wednesday his comment earlier this year that he wished he could have pretended to be transgender in high school so he could shower with girls has stirred up the media but not the general public.


"Nobody ever asks me about it except people from the media, the only people that seem to be stirred up about it," Huckabee told reporters Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock, where he was scheduled to hold an evening fundraiser.


BuzzFeed News on Tuesday posted a video of a speech Huckabee gave in February to the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tenn. In the speech, Huckabee joked, "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.’"


The former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher continued in the speech, "You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet today we’re the ones who are ridiculed and scorned because we point out the obvious, that there’s something inherently wrong with forcing little children to be part of this social experiment."


Earlier in the speech, Huckabee said, "We are now in city after city watching ordinances that say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom, cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man."


BuzzFeed posted the video in the wake of transgender Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner’s announcement that she wants to be known as Caitlyn Jenner and her appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair.


Asked Wednesday if he stands by the comments, Huckabee said he is focused on different issues now. He said he had visited a Jonesboro restaurant earlier in the day and was not asked by any members of the public there about his remarks from February.


"What people talk to me about is not some speech I made four months ago, and it’s not some cultural issue," he said. "People talk to me about the loss of their job. They talk to me about threats to this country. And that’s what I’m focused on, and that’s why I’m running for president. It’s not to entertain the masses with comments on the culture news of the day."


Huckabee noted that he was not a presidential candidate when he gave the speech in February. He announced his candidacy in May.


Asked if he intends to suppress his fondness for making spontaneous quips now that he is a presidential candidate, Huckabee said, "It’s not that I like to do it, it’s, I can’t help myself sometimes."


Huckabee also was asked about the passage last week of legislation in Arkansas to move the state’s 2016 primary elections from May 20 to March 1. Arkansas is seeking to join an anticipated super primary with other Southern states.


"We were glad to see it happen, not so much just because of my position in Arkansas, I think, as much as the fact that it makes Arkansas and the other Southern states — which are critical to the election of a Republican president — it makes them real players in the primary process," Huckabee said.


Huckabee said there is a "fairly decent chance" that Arkansas will have a connection to a Republican and a Democratic primary candidate — a reference to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s candidacy — and said he believed Arkansas voters would like to be part of the process as opposed to voting "when it’s all said and done and over with and they have no impact whatsoever."


Asked if he continues to stand by state Treasurer Dennis Milligan, for whom he served as honorary campaign chairman, Huckabee said, "Why wouldn’t I?"


The Jefferson County Republican Committee released a letter Monday calling on Milligan to resign because of what it considers a series of missteps since he took office in January. Huckabee said Wednesday that Milligan’s office has done "a magnificent job of bringing a lot of money to the state by the way in which they’re investing the state funds."


"If there were some hiccups in his early days taking office, I would say that he has acquitted himself quite well," he said.


Huckabee served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. In 2008, he finished second to Arizona Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primary race.


Huckabee’s campaign said he has additional fundraisers scheduled in El Dorado on Thursday and in Texarkana on Friday. After the Texarkana event, Huckabee is scheduled to travel Friday to Iowa for a series of campaign appearances.