Senate GOP opposition to Cain grows

A growing number of Senate Republicans are warning they will oppose Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, leaving President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE with no room for error if he moves forward with the nomination. 

Three GOP senators have told reporters they would not support Cain if Trump formally sends the nomination to the Senate: Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration MORE (Utah). 

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Romney told reporters he could not support naming Cain to the central bank, while a spokeswoman for Murkowski confirmed to The Hill that the moderate GOP senator would oppose his nomination. 

"Senator Murkowski said that she would not support his nomination," a spokeswoman said when asked about Cain. 

Gardner, a senator running for reelection in a state won in 2016 by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE, also told CNN he would oppose Cain. 

"It's not about his past. It's about who I think should be on the board," Gardner said. "So that's that."

Spokesmen for Gardner didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

If all three Republican senators voted no on his nomination, Cain would have to run the board with the rest of the Republican caucus or flip a Democratic senator to be confirmed. 

With a 53-seat majority, Republicans could afford to lose only three GOP senators and still confirm one of Trump's nominees on their own by letting Vice President Pence break a tie. 

But several other senators have expressed concerns about Cain, including that his background could be out of sync with the independence of the Federal Reserve Board. 

Asked about Cain this week, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (R-Texas), a member of GOP leadership, warned that the Fed board needs to remain independent from politics. 

"I think the Fed should be independent. It’s my understanding that he’s served on some of the regional Fed boards. ... I’m not really familiar with his experience there or how he’s conducted himself. I think it important to keep the Federal Reserve — to maintain its independence from politics," Cornyn said. 

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report 2020 Democrats call for Kavanaugh to be impeached Warren: Kavanaugh 'should be impeached' just like Trump MORE (R-Texas) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) demurred when asked if they would support Cain if he's nominated. 

"I like and respect Herman. I'll certainly consider the nomination on the merits," Cruz said. 

Kennedy added that he wanted to see the FBI report from a background investigation on Cain before he made a decision but warned that he didn't want to see the Federal Reserve Board be "politicized." 

"I will vote against a nominee that I think has been sent there with a closed mind just to vote in a particular way without considering all the evidence," Kennedy said. 

GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance MORE (Maine), who has opposed other high-profile Trump nominees, said she hadn't focused on Cain's potential nomination but expected that if he's nominated the sexual harassment allegations that derailed his 2012 presidential campaign would be "thoroughly explored." Cain denied wrongdoing.

Any one of those GOP senators coming out in opposition to a Cain nomination would be enough to guarantee that he could not be confirmed by the Senate without help from Democrats. No Democratic senator has said they will support Cain if he is nominated. 

The growing signs of opposition to Cain within the caucus come even as Trump and top administration officials are going to bat for the former presidential candidate. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinIran: Rouhani, Trump won't meet at United Nations Trump denies reports he's willing to meet with Iran with 'no conditions' Turkey confirms delivery of second Russian anti-missile system MORE told CNBC on Wednesday that he believed Cain should be confirmed to the Federal Reserve Board. 

"I don't know Cain very well, but I have every reason to believe the president supports him and feels strongly, so, yes, I would think he should be confirmed," Mnuchin said. 

Trump also praised Cain as he departed the White House earlier Wednesday, saying he is a "wonderful man" and has "been a supporter of mine for a long time." 

"He's already sat on one the Fed boards, and he's just somebody I like a lot," Trump added. "As to how he's doing in the process, that I don’t know. You go through a process. But Herman is a great guy, and I hope he does well."