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 TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 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 MurkowskiOn The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Cain withdraws from Fed consideration Cain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat MORE (Alaska), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDem super PAC campaign urges Republicans to back impeachment On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies MORE (Colo.) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP plots comeback in Orange County Trump's Fed pick on critics: 'They're pulling a Kavanaugh against me' Dem super PAC campaign urges Republicans to back impeachment 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 ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? 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 CornynKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Cornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid 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 CruzCornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Liberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising 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 CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump 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 MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Lighthizer, Mnuchin to travel to China for latest round of trade talks On The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery 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."