Rick Perry "regrets" saying he wanted to eliminate the department he now wants to lead

Rick Perry "regrets" saying he wanted to eliminate the department he now wants to lead

During his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday to lead the Department of Energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry walked back his previous calls to eliminate that very department.

Not only did Perry want to eliminate the Energy department as early as five years ago, he forgot the name of said department on stage during a GOP presidential primary debate in 2011, leading to his infamous "oops" moment.

"My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking," Perry said at his confirmation hearing, according to prepared remarks. "In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination."

Perry's expression of regret in his opening statements is likely an attempt to inoculate himself against criticism from Democratic senators, who are nearly assured to ask Perry why he wants to lead a Cabinet department he once wanted to eliminate. 

He is also likely to be questioned on Wednesday's New York Times report that claimed Perry was unaware of the exact duties included in the position before he accepted the job.

According to the report, Perry thought he would be overseeing oil and gas issues.

However, one of the Department of Energy's main tasks is overseeing the country's nuclear weapons program.

Ernest Moniz, the current secretary of Energy, is a nuclear physicist. His predecessor, Steven Chu, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Perry has an undergraduate degree in animal science.