(CNN) – Gov. Rick Perry admitted he fumbled the ball when he recently compared homosexuality to alcoholism.
"I stepped right in it," the Texas Republican said Thursday at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, which also aired on C-SPAN.
The potential presidential candidate, who was unsuccessful in his 2012 White House bid, didn't necessarily distance himself from the comments or apologize, but said he'd rather be talking about other issues.
"We need to be a really respectful and tolerant country to everybody...Whether you're gay or straight, you need to be having a job, and those are the focuses that I want to be involved with," he said.
"We're an incredibly diverse mosaic of a country," Perry continued. "A lot of these issues need to be decided at the state level."
The day before, on Wednesday, Perry stood by the comments on CNN's "Crossfire" when he was asked by co-host Stephanie Cutter whether he believes homosexuality is a disease.
"I think my position has been fairly clear on that for a substantial period of time," Perry said, pivoting quickly to the economy.
The focus should be on American jobs, Perry said, "and that is not on these social issues."
"I think the social issues should be decided state-by-state rather than being something in Washington, D.C. to try to make one-size-fits-all."
At a speech last week in San Francisco, the longtime Republican governor – who ran for the White House in 2012 and is considering another bid in 2016 – was asked whether he thought homosexuality was a disorder.
"I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way," Perry said during that event, immediately sparking backlash from Democrats and gay rights organizations.
CNN's Ashley Killough and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.