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Under fire for number of jobs he promises, Perry defends plan

In his first appearance on a Sunday morning national news program as a presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry defended his jobs plan against accusations that it is insufficiently bold, admitted that he has changed his position on federal subsidies for the energy industry, and again slammed rival Mitt Romney on the issue of "consistency."

Asked by host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday to explain why his new economic plan only promises the creation of 2.5 million jobs -- not as ambitious a number as many economic experts would like -- Perry said that any increase in job creation is a good one. 

"I think it's amazing that people, when we've lost 2.5 million jobs in this country and there is another state that is juxtapositioned to that that created a million jobs, and for people to go 'Well, that's not enough,' he said. "Let me tell you, any jobs at this particular point in time helps." 

As First Read wrote earlier this week, Perry's goal translates into about 52,000 new jobs per month over a four-year term -- a pace that current President Barack Obama currently matches. And it wouldn't likely be enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate, considering 14 million remain unemployed.

But on Sunday, Perry called the idea that his plan could actually result in an uptick in the unemployment rate "absolutely false on its face."

"The idea that I'm going to let people talk this plan down for the sake of just having an intellectual discussion, that's not correct," Perry said. 

The Texas governor, who has made the elimination of federal subsidies for the energy industry a key part of his energy plan, was also pressed to explain a letter he wrote to the Department of Energy in 2008 requesting government assistance for a nuclear power facility in his home state. 

"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," he said. "But from a general standpoint, any type of federal dollars flowing into these industries we think is bad public policy." 

"I've changed my position from the standpoint of having any desire to have the federal government" participate in subsidies, Perry continued. "I've learned some things over the course of the years, and what I've learned is the federal government, you keep them out of these issues, particularly on the energy side." 

Perry, who has tried to highlight rival Romney's policy flip-flops on the campaign trail, again challenged the former Massachusetts governor on "consistency" and hinted at future negative attacks by exposing "the truth." 

"I don't get confused with just telling the truth. Someone might say that's negative," he said of how prepared his campaign is to attack Romney outright. "If we're telling the truth about someone, the truth is the truth whether it hurts your feelings or not."

Striking an optimistic tone about his opportunities to recover from a dizzying plunge in the polls, Perry suggested that he will take a slow-and-steady approach to a contest that is "not yet settled." 

"Don't sprint it, just take a nice easy run at it and continue to stay focused and take your message to the people," he said.