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Welch quits 2 gigs over Obama tweet

– Jack Welch, the former chief executive officer of General Electric, will stop writing for Thomson Reuters and Fortune magazine after backlash to his Twitter post suggesting President Obama’s administration manipulated employment data for political gain.

Welch sent an email to Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler and Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer saying he and his wife, Suzy, were terminating their contract and would no longer contribute to Reuters or Fortune. The print title had agreed to pick up the column. Reuters spokeswoman Barb Burg confirmed Welch was leaving.

The move followed criticism by Serwer of Welch’s comments on the Oct. 5 U.S. unemployment report and a Reuters story quoting a money manager who described Welch’s statements as laughable, Fortune said. Obama’s administration denounced Welch’s claims as baseless.

Welch said he and his wife were planning a Wall Street Journal piece, according to the email, which was confirmed by his assistant, Roseanne Badowski.

“In terms of traction, it’s just a better fit for us,” Welch said in the message, posted on Fortune’s website.

Welch declined to comment further, Badowski said. Ashley Huston, a spokeswoman for Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., declined to comment.

Welch has contributed $5,000, the maximum, to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign and described him on CNBC as “the most qualified leader” to seek the office in his lifetime. His Friday Twitter message snowballed as commentators and politicians weighed in on social-media websites and television to endorse or dispute his view.

“Unbelievable jobs numbers … these Chicago guys will do anything … can’t debate so change numbers,” Welch said in the message, posted immediately after the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month. That was the lowest since Obama took office in January 2009.

The Obama administration defended the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which computes the figures. Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Bloomberg Television that Welch’s remark was “irresponsible.”