Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday criticized former General Electric executive Jack Welch for suggesting the Obama campaign has influenced or manipulated the most recent U.S. unemployment numbers.
"The notion, quite frankly, that somebody as well respected as Jack Welch would go on television and single-handedly embarrass himself for the entire day of Friday by saying somehow that these statistics are made up ... it’s incredibly dangerous," Gibbs said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Conservatives and others suggested Friday, after the Labor Department report showed the September unemployment rate had dipped to 7.8 percent, that the number, the lowest since President Obama took office, might have been an outlier or based on incorrect data and assumptions.
Welch appeared to take the idea a step further Friday, two days after an unspectacular debate performance by President Obama, when he tweeted: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything . . . can't debate so change numbers."
Welch appeared later on Fox News and said he was not sure how the federal government arrived at the numbers, but suggested the report should make officials look at measurements used.
“I don’t know what the right numbers are,” the 76-year-old Welch said. “But I’ll tell you these numbers don’t smell right when you think about where the economy is right now.”
He argued in his defense that 25 of the country’s top economists predicted the August unemployment rate of 8.1 percent would remain the same this month or drop to 8.1 percent.
“That’s why I tweeted,” Welch said.
The other Labor Department numbers being questioned by Welch and others are those on jobs added to the economy.
One is based on a broad survey of employers that stated 114,000 jobs were added in September. But the unemployment rate itself is based on a separate "household survey," which showed 873,000 new jobs last month.
"This must be an anomaly," former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Holtz-Eakin said in a snap analysis of the numbers. "It is out of line with any of the other data.”
Gibbs was not alone in his criticism of Welch and the others.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Friday the idea that the Bureau of Labor Statistics would manipulate jobs numbers for political purposes is “ludicrous.”
Said Gibbs: "We wonder why institutions in this country -- the perceptions of institutions -- are failing: because people go on TV and make stuff up. .. There's a number of people that believe the real unemployment report is somewhere in a safe in Nairobi with the president's Kenyan birth certificate."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.