Sen. Kevin Cramer said Thursday he would vote against giving Herman Cain a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, likely dooming the nomination before the president officially makes it.
“If I had to vote right now, there’s no way I could vote for him,” Cramer told CQ Roll Call. “I know more things about him that’d keep him out than would qualify him.”
The North Dakota Republican joins fellow Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in publicly opposing the Cain pick. If Democratic senators voted no as well, Cain’s nomination would fall short of the simple majority needed to confirm him.
President Donald Trump said last week that he was considering Cain for a seat on the powerful board, which oversees the nation’s banks and helps set interest rates. Cain is a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who dropped out of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after multiple sexual harassment allegations emerged. Those allegations are what drove Cramer to oppose Cain.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that he has not advised Trump one way or another about nominating Herman Cain to join the board of the Federal Reserve.
“No. I haven’t given him any advice about that,” McConnell said during a pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. “As you all have reported, there is a lack of enthusiasm among a number of our members about that particular nominee. I have not spoken to him about it. I do think — stating the obvious — that there are two things the administration ought to consider before nominating someone. First, obviously, background check. And second, likelihood of confirmation. And generally it’s better to check that out in advance, before you send a nomination up.”
“It’s hard for me to get over the harassment allegations from the past,” Cramer said. “His showmanship doesn’t bother me. I think his business experience is great, simplifying the tax code is fine by me. But character still does matter.”
Cain also drew criticism from economists and Wall Street due to his past support for returning the U.S. to the gold standard. While Cain previously sat on the board of the Kansas City Fed, that position mostly advises Fed economists on research topics. Regional chairs are not involved in setting monetary policy.
Cramer said he was still “pretty open and bullish on Stephen Moore,” another potential Fed pick that the president has floated. Cramer said Moore’s personal issues — involving unpaid alimony and taxes — have been resolved, and that he didn’t worry that the former Trump campaign adviser and author of “Trumponomics,” a book praising the president’s economic policies, would lack the level of political independence normally expected from a Fed governor.
Moore has also drawn criticism from economists for tailoring his monetary views to suit his politics. He opposed a loose monetary policy when President Barack Obama was in office and endorsed that policy when Trump took over.
Jennifer Shutt and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.