GOP Senators Pulling Support for Trump Fed Pick Herman Cain

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At least three Republican senators said they won’t back President Donald Trump’s choice of Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, putting his prospective nomination in danger as the president suggested Wednesday he won’t put up a fight.

“I don’t think Herman Cain would be confirmed by the Senate, and I think the president would be wise to nominate someone who is less partisan and more experienced in the world of economics,” said Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. “I would anticipate voting no if he were nominated.”

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Cory Gardner also said they would vote against a Cain nomination. Other GOP senators also have expressed hesitation about putting Cain on the Fed, and a fourth announcing firm opposition would sink a nomination.

Trump, who hasn’t formally sent paperwork for a Cain nomination to the Senate, told reporters that it’s up to Cain, a former pizza executive and presidential candidate, to determine whether he can win confirmation by the Senate.

Asked whether Cain’s nomination was “safe,” Trump said that “Herman will make that determination.”

“Herman is a wonderful man,” Trump said as he departed the White House to attend fundraisers in Texas. “He’s been a supporter of mine for a long time. He actually ran a very good campaign. And that’s up to Herman.”

On Thursday, White House economist Kevin Hassett signaled support for Cain. “He has a lot of experience,” Hassett told reporters. “He’s a capable, smart and competent person.”

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the no. 2 Republican leader, warned Tuesday that it could be difficult to confirm Cain, whose 2011 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination ended after he was accused of sexual harassment and infidelity.

“I’m not saying that he couldn’t get there, but he starts off with some concerns and we’d have to confirm him with all Republican votes,” Thune said. “There aren’t going to be Democratic votes for him. That’s what he would be facing going into the process.”

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, a senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee that will consider Cain’s nomination, has been decidedly cool to the potential pick.

“A lot of times they throw a nominee out there to see how it plays,” he said this week. “And then they vet them and they check them out. You never know, do you?”

Asked if he thought he could support Cain, Shelby said he didn’t know yet but that “all nominations to the Federal Reserve are very serious nominations. You need experienced, serious people.”

Cain said in a video posted on Facebook on Friday that he faced a “cumbersome” vetting process for the Fed seat, suggesting he may be considering withdrawing. His campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination ended in 2011 after he was accused of sexual harassment when he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Neither Cain nor Trump’s selection for the Fed board’s other open seat, Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore, has been formally nominated. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, who would preside over their nominations, declined to comment on their prospects on Tuesday.

“We’re very early in the process,” Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC in an interview aired Thursday. “He and Stephen Moore are people who really understand what the president’s philosophy is in this economy. But we’ll see how it plays out.”

Trump said he wasn’t aware of how senators feel about Cain.

“As to how he’s doing in the process, that I don’t know,” Trump said. “You go through a process. But Herman is a great guy, and I hope he does well.”

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