BIRMNGHAM, Ala. (AP/The Huffington Post) -- Presidential candidate Herman Cain is full of confidence about his 2012 prospects.
It's been weeks since he's set foot in first-voting Iowa or New Hampshire, yet he said Saturday he said expects to finish first or second in each state.
The latest Des Moines Register poll out Saturday showed Cain statistically tied with Mitt Romney for the lead in the GOP primary.
Cain's also predicting victory in South Carolina, which will hold the South's first presidential contest in 2012.
"And then, look out," Cain said Saturday before plunging into a crowd of football tailgaters at Samford University, a Baptist-affiliated school in Alabama.
That win, he says, will set the stage for him to capture the GOP nomination.
Cain's campaign, however, said he plans to "dial back" his campaign and media appearances in order to avoid missteps. Since climbing in the polls, he has had a series of fumbles, forcing him to clarify comments on abortion, immigration and terrorism suspects.
"I wouldn't say we're going to dial it down. We're going to be more deliberate on the type of things we do when I have a very full schedule, Cain told ABC News. "For example, in retrospect doing a taped interview following a debate, following some interviews, probably wasn't a good idea because. You know I'm only a human being. And you reach a point where if you're too tired, you're not on your 'A game'. When we say dial it down, we simply mean we're going to balance it out such that I can be on my a game every time I have to do an interview."
Cain has chalked up the mistakes to a grueling campaign schedule jammed with media interviews. Such itineraries are standard fare on the presidential campaign trail and it is unclear how aggressively he will restrict his schedule.
A former pizza magnate who has never held elected office, Cain is adapting from a longshot candidate hustling for any media attention to a front-runner who must be more selective with his time and disciplined in his message.
The blunt-spoken Cain has been more cautious lately. At a campaign stop at the Alabama Republican Party headquarters on Friday, Cain paused then asked a reporter to repeat a complicated two-part question on immigration.
"I don't want to have to clarify," he said with a laugh.
Not everyone thinks walking back a misstatement is a sign of weakness.
"I like that if he says something, he's not afraid to turn around and admit he's wrong," said Phil Andrews, of Birmingham, who tried without success to reach the candidate and have him sign his Cain t-shirt."He's human and that's just fine."