Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry admitted he changed his position on the support he expressed for a federal loan guarantee for a nuclear energy project in Texas three years ago.
“I have changed my position from the standpoint of having any desire to have the federal government,” the Texas governor said on “Fox News Sunday” in response to a question about the 2008 nuclear energy project. “I’ve learned some things over the years and what I’ve learned is the federal government by and large, you keep them out of these issues particularly on the energy side, and I think that’s the best position for us to take as Americans today.”
In 2008, Perry wrote a letter to then Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman expressing his support for an application by NRG Energy, Inc. to construct two nuclear reactors in south Texas. The federal loan guarantee was granted to another project, and plans for the nuclear energy project were halted.
“We were asking at that particular point in time for the federal government to support the nuclear power industry in the state of Texas or across the country from that standpoint, but from a general standpoint, any type of federal dollars flowing into these industries we think is bad public policy,” Perry said today.
Perry expressed his opposition to the federal government providing subsidies and tax credits to the energy industry and instead pointed to the states to handle such projects.
“I think the federal government needs to be completely out of the subsidation or the tax credit side on the energy,” he said. “States can do it.”
Perry spent most of his first Sunday news show interview since he entered the race nearly 80 days ago defending his recently unveiled economic plan against criticisms that it lowers revenue and provides the greatest tax cuts to the wealthy.
“There’s nothing wrong with lower revenue. I think Americans are ready for Washington, D.C., to quit spending money that they don’t have,” Perry said from Austin, Texas. “I don’t want more revenue in Washington D.C.’s hands. I want more revenue in the private sector job creators hands and in American citizens out there. I guarantee it they’ll make better decisions about how to spend that money than Washington, D.C.”
Perry answered criticisms that his tax plan provides the greatest tax breaks to the wealthy, arguing that those with money will help spur the economy by creating more jobs.
“Everybody gets a tax cut here, and historically those who have money put more into their businesses, they hire more people,” Perry said. “You’ve got the president, you have some people out there who want to talk about class warfare, that the rich are going to have more money or what have you. I’m interested in individuals who are going to be able to invest in this country, have the confidence that an environment has been created … they’ll invest in companies that can create jobs. That’s what this debate ought to stay on, not creating class warfare.”
In the first round of television ads he released in Iowa this week, Perry touted his job creation record in Texas and vowed to create 2.5 million jobs as president, a number FOX News would increase the unemployment rate, a claim Perry called “absolutely false on its face.”
“I think it’s amazing that when people, when we’ve lost two and a half million jobs in this country, and there’s another state that’s juxtaposition to that that created a million jobs and for people to go, ‘Well that’s not enough.’ Well let me tell you, any job at this particular point in time helps,” Perry said. “Americans will get back to work.
“The idea that I’m going to let people talk this plan down just for the sake of just having an intellectual discussion is not correct,” he said.
Perry criticized President Obama’s decision to pull all troops out of Iraq by year’s end and lambasted his handling of the economy, suggesting the president has “turned it into an absolute Frankenstein experience.”
The Texas governor took the opportunity to paint opponent Mitt Romney as inconsistent on a number of issues, ranging from his stance on abortion to gun control.
“I have been a consistent conservative. I have always been in favor of the Second Amendment and protecting Second Amendment. I’ve always been pro-life, I’ve always been a fiscal conservative, and Mitt’s been on both sides of those issues,” Perry said. “He’s been through a ban on guns in Massachusetts, he’s been for pro-abortion, he’s been you know for supporting gay rights and now he’s on the other side of those issues. So from the standpoint of having different positions, we certainly do. We are very, very different from the standpoint of consistency on those issues that I’ve just mentioned.”
Perry, who is polling in fifth place with 7 percent in Iowa according to a Des Moines Register poll released Saturday, said he is not planning “negative” attacks on Romney but said he’s prepared to lay out the truth about the Massachusetts governor.
“I don’t get confused with just telling the truth with someone might say that’s negative,” he said. “If we’re telling the truth about someone, the truth is the truth, whether it hurts your feelings or not.”
Perry shot to the top of the polls when he entered the presidential race, but his numbers tumbled after shaky debate performances. The Texas governor, who has never lost an election, said the race isn’t settled yet and believes he still has the time and funds to compete with the heavy hitters in the Republican field.
“Don’t sprint it, just take a nice easy run at it, continue to stay focused and take your message to the people,” Perry said when asked what he’s learned in the first two months of campaigning. “I’m confident that we’re going to be out there competing and obviously we’ve got a war chest that allows us to get that message out there.”