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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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 MurkowskiTrump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' Pressure builds to secure health care data Trump plan to strip public land conservation fund gets bipartisan pushback MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerMcSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDon't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Mitt Romney: Rape allegation against Trump should be 'evaluated' Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales MORE (Utah). 


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 Clinton'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Ocasio-Cortez on Biden: 'I think that he's not a pragmatic choice' 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 CornynSenate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 2020 debates complicate Senate plans for vote on Trump's war authority Senate GOP to defeat proposal requiring approval for Iran attack 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 CruzWhite House to convene social media summit after new Trump attacks GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats O'Rourke on Senate bid backer Beyoncé: I will have to 'earn her support' for 2020 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 CollinsTrump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' Susan Collins: Trump's 'she's not my type' defense is 'extremely bizarre' The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations 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 MnuchinFive things to watch as Trump heads to G-20 in Japan Mnuchin: We were 'about 90 percent of the way there' on China trade deal The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? 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."