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GOP Senators Have Mixed Reaction as Trump Is Said to Pick Herman Cain for Fed Board

Herman Cain Leads Tax Day Rally At U.S. CapitolHerman Cain Leads Tax Day Rally At U.S. Capitol
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the "Cain's Revolution on the Hill" Tax Day Rally at the U.S. Capitol April 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee—Getty Images

President Donald Trump intends to nominate Herman Cain, the former pizza company executive who ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump plans to announce his selection very soon, said three people, who asked not be identified discussing the nomination because it hasn’t been announced. Cain would fill one of two open seats on the board; the president plans to name Stephen Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a long-time Trump supporter, for the other.

In Cain and Moore, Trump would place two political loyalists on the board of a central bank that has frequently crossed him. The president has repeatedly attacked Jerome Powell, his own appointee as Federal Reserve chairman, for raising interest rates, and Bloomberg News reported in December that Trump had even discussed firing him. One way the president can directly influence monetary policy is through nominations to the Fed board, though anyone he picks must be confirmed by the Senate.

Cain in September co-founded a pro-Trump super-political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, which features a photo of the president on its website and says: “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”

Cain, who had a long corporate career, has also worked in the Federal Reserve system. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as well as deputy chairman and then chairman. He advocated for the U.S. to return to the gold standard during his presidential campaign and as recently as December 2017 defended higher interest rates, a position that contrasts with Trump’s repeated criticisms of the Fed last year.

Some GOP senators had a mixed reaction to Cain.

Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, said he doesn’t know enough about Cain and would have to wait for hearings.

“A lot of times they throw a nominee out there to see how it plays,” he said. “And then they vet them and they check them out.”

Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, praised Cain. “He’s a business guy,” Perdue said. “He’s got a great background for it. I know him personally. I think personally he’d be a great addition.”

Cain ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination but dropped out in late 2011 after allegations he engaged in sexual harassment when he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. An Atlanta woman said she had had an extramarital affair with Cain for more than 13 years.

During the presidential campaign, Cain became known for his “9-9-9” tax plan, which would have replaced much of the U.S. tax code with a flat 9 percent tax on sales transactions as well as corporate and individual income.

Axios reported earlier Thursday that Trump was expected to announce his selection of Cain as soon as a background check was completed. Bloomberg reported in January that Trump was close to choosing Cain for the job.