From NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Listening to Huckabee address the Leadership Program of the Rockies Friday night, you might not know he was running for president. He didn't mention it. Those introducing him as the keynote speaker didn't mention it. And even his biography in the program didn't note that he's seeking the Republican nomination for president.
Huckabee has tried hard to separate his paid speeches -- this was one -- from campaign activity. He flies commercial to the speeches and brings hardly any staff (two aides did join him earlier in the day for a media availability at Focus on the Family).
But what didn't change was the message. While he stayed away from direct references to his campaign, he did use many of the same anecdotes and stories, and expanded on his enjoyment in visiting the Alamo on Thursday.
Officials with the association, which provides leadership training to future public servants in Colorado, would not reveal how much Huckabee was paid for the address.
Huckabee also yesterday evening went to the Focus on the Family campus Friday for what he described as an "off-the-record and confidential" meeting with Christian leader James Dobson. Huckabee, speaking to reporters afterward, would not detail the talk, other than to say it was "excellent" and more personal than political.
"We have a relationship that dates back on a personal level for 14 years," he said.
Dobson, who has endorsed Huckabee, did not join the presidential candidate at the media availability. And Huckabee said it was unlikely Dobson would campaign for him, given his busy schedule.
Huckabee also disputed suggestions that the second paid address in a week was a sign that he was diminishing active campaigning. He noted he was holding numerous events in March 4 primary states of Ohio and Texas, and said if he was a U.S. senator, he would be expected to be in Washington at times for votes.
"These folks are not showing up to work, and they're asking us to give them a better job," he said.
Asked about his upcoming appearance on "Saturday Night Live" tonight, he couldn't think of who might impersonate Obama. But he suggested Brad Pitt could do a good Mike Huckabee, adding that people at airports are always asking if he's Brad Pitt.