President Trump’s recently-floated elevation of Herman Cain to the seven-member Federal Reserve board has lost critical Republican support in the Senate, Fox News has learned, all but dooming the former GOP presidential candidate’s chances.
Fox News has confirmed that North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer is opposed to Cain’s prospective nomination to the Fed. Cramer would be the fourth GOP nay, joining Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner, and Mitt Romney.
With 53 Republicans in the Senate, losing four GOPers makes it unlikely Cain could score confirmation.
Earlier Thursday, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox News the White House still wanted Cain to join the Fed, and referred back to Trump’s comments on the matter earlier in the week.
Aware of the objections to Cain’s possible selection, Trump said Wednesday that Cain is a “wonderful man,” but that it will be up to him to decide whether to go forward with a nomination to the Fed.
Asked by reporters if the nomination was safe, Trump said he did not know how Cain is faring in the vetting process. Cain “will make that determination” whether to continue, he said.
Trump’s comments came one day after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell dodged a question on whether he would support Cain and conservative commentator Stephen Moore, whom Trump is also considering for a Fed board seat.
“Well, we’re going to look at whoever he sends up, and once he does, we’ll take a look at it,” McConnell said.
Republicans and Democrats have raised questions about whether Trump’s choices of both Cain and Moore, two political allies, would elevate concerns about the political independence of the Fed.
Trump has already broken the norms set by recent presidents who have avoided commenting on the Fed’s performance.
Since last fall, Trump has repeatedly criticized his handpicked chairman, Jerome Powell, and other Fed officials for raising interest rates four times last year. Those rate hikes hurt the stock market and were unnecessary because there was no inflation threat, Trump said.
The White House has not formally nominated either Cain or Moore, but Trump has said he intends to nominate both men once the White House background checks are completed.
Asked about Cain’s nomination in light of concerns raised by some Senate Republicans, Trump said, “I like Herman Cain. And Herman will make that determination. Herman is a wonderful man. He’s been a good supporter of mine for a long time.”
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The Fed’s seven-member board has two empty seats. Trump’s previous picks were viewed as mainstream economists or bankers, but his selections of Cain and Powell have been seen as an effort by Trump to put a more partisan stamp on Fed policies.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.