Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not referring to doctoring unemployment numbers Friday when he told CNBC “I wouldn’t put anything past this administration,” according to a spokesperson.
Following McCain’s appearance on CNBC, numerous outlets — including CNBC — reported that McCain was joining the ranks of conservatives claiming the White House cooked up the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing the unemployment rate had dropped below 8 percent for the first time since 2009 in order to boost the president’s reelection chances.
McCain was a guest on the show to discuss his charge that the White House is violating the unrelated WARN Act.
“He was taking about the WARN Act and Libya,” McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers told TPM. “And so when he said ‘I wouldn’t put anything past the administration,’ he was not referring to the BLS numbers.”
Asked what McCain thinks of the conspiracy theory regarding the unemployment number, Rogers said, “He’s not questioning the BLS numbers in any way.”
On CNBC, McCain didn’t condemn the conspiracy theorists.
“I think it is some good news for Americans. I think that a lot of families are still hurt very, very badly. Depending on how you count it, 23 million people are still out of work,” McCain said. “A lot of this data is people who are part-time unemployment. But I can’t — frankly, I’m not enough of an economist to question exactly what those numbers are.”