Newt Gingrich thinks Jack Welch might be on to something.
The former chief executive officer of General Electric lit up Twitter yesterday when he wrote that President Barack Obama’s political team was behind a jobs report showing a drop in unemployment. Welch’s conspiracy theory was widely dismissed by economists and condemned by many Democrats and Republicans alike.
But the former House speaker, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination this year, stuck up for Welch during an appearance today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Host David Gregory replayed a clip of Welch speaking last night on CNBC and asked Gingrich whether the former CEO’s comments “ring true.”
“It rings true on a deeper level without getting into the conspiracy,” Gingrich said. “Actually, since it’s a survey, is this outside the statistical bounds of their survey? Which is plausible but irrelevant.”
Gingrich argued larger “trust” issues are at play.
“So the president of the United States is so deeply distrusted by people like Jack Welch — who is hardly a right-winger, I mean Welch is one of the most successful businessmen in America — but Welch instantaneously assumes this is the Chicago machine,” Gingrich said.
He later said Americans are “losing respect for Washington” and simply don’t believe the economy is improving, no matter what a jobs report says.
The Department of Labor reported Friday that unemployment had slipped to 7.8 percent in September, the first time it has fallen below 8 percent in more than three and a half years and its lowest rate since Obama took office in January 2009. Welch immediately suggested political manipulation of the data.
One person not buying any conspiracy theory? Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs, who took part in the same NBC panel.
“I assume, David, 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,” Gibbs said. “This stuff is absolutely crazy.”