Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Saturday he will be cutting back on public appearances in an effort to avoid more of the slip-ups that have dogged his campaign in recent weeks, even as he's surged to front-runner status.
Cain -- fresh off a $5 million fundraising haul generated during the month of October alone -- has nevertheless raised some eyebrows and prompted inquiries on issues including abortion, illegal immigration and treatment of terror suspects.
Last week, Cain told CNN that while he strongly opposes abortion, “the government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make” -- viewed by many as more of a pro-abortion position. He later issued a statement reaffirming his opposition to abortion.
The same week, he suggested building an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexico border that would kill illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States. Cain later called it a "joke" and apologized if anyone was offended by the remarks.
The Associated Press reported:
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.
"When you're too tired you're not on your `A game,'" the 65-year-old Georgia businessman told a throng of reporters who greeted the arrival of his bus on the Samford campus.
He said it was a mistake to schedule interviews immediately following debates. Cain maintained he did not flip-flop on issues, but simply did not hear questions properly.
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.
He's not the only GOP candidate considering cutting back his time in the public eye: Texas Gov. Rick Perry said this week he intends to skip some of the upcoming candidate debates to focus on meeting with voters in the all-important early primary states.
"These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Perry told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. “It’s pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one-minute response.”
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan noted that there have been eight GOP debates so far, and Perry -- who entered the race later than the other candidates -- has done five.
“There is no way to do all of them, particularly as the elections are rapidly approaching in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Sullivan told the Dallas Morning News.
Perry has been criticized for some of his less-than-inspiring recent debate performances, and even admitted to journalists earlier this month, "Debates are not my strong suit."
Still, despite any Cain slip-ups, he remains a headline-grabber. His so-called "smoking" ad dominated much of the campaign conversation this week, earning parodies from Stephen Colbert to fellow candidate Jon Huntsman's social media-savvy daughters.