By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump’s latest choice to become a member of the Federal Reserve board withdrew from consideration on Thursday, his fourth pick to fail to make it through the process.
Conservative economic commentator Stephen Moore had faced mounting criticism over his qualifications and past comments.
The withdrawal suggested the president is facing difficulty in installing loyalists at the central bank.
“Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist, and a truly fine person has decided to withdraw from the Fed process,” Trump said on Twitter, moments after Moore told Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal that he would stay in the race.
Another candidate, businessman and long-shot presidential candidate Herman Cain, last week pulled out of the process to fill one of two remaining openings on the central bank board.
Trump has repeatedly ignored norms designed to protect the independent Fed from political influence, which could undermine its credibility, lambasting the central bank for raising interest rates and even this week calling for a drastic cut.
In that atmosphere, his nominations of Moore and Cain were viewed by some as an attempt to bring pressure from the inside. They also were criticized for their lack of qualifications, including by Republicans in the Senate.
Five of the 53 Republicans in the 100-member chamber told AFP there were serious problems with Moore’s candidacy.
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa hardened her opposition after the emergence of articles and speeches by Moore over the years, some of which have been criticized as sexist or trafficking in racism.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said Moore never should have been considered.
“First, Cain. Now, Moore. Thank goodness neither were actually nominated,” Schumer said in a statement.
“The only thing less funny than some of Mr. Moore’s tasteless, offensive, sexist ‘jokes’ was the idea that President Trump would even consider him for a seat on the Federal Reserve.”
Moore, a 59-year-old economic and political commentator, advised Trump when he was running for president and has publicly expressed his opposition to raising interest rates, calling the last hike in December “economic malpractice.”
He gave two interviews published within an hour of Trump’s tweet to say that he was staying in the race despite the criticism and that a White House official had encouraged him to remain.
“I sure am,” Moore told Bloomberg when asked if he would persist in seeking a Fed seat. “I’m not too concerned about this.”
However, in those interviews, he also disagreed with Trump’s call to cut the benchmark lending rate by a full point.
He recently had tried to walk back some of his comments about women, such as complaints that women’s wage gains could pose a danger to families by outpacing those of men.
In a letter informing Trump of his withdrawal, Moore defended the economic policies that he championed but decried the withering criticism he faced.
“Trumponomics has been VINDICATED,” Moore stated.
However, the “unrelenting attacks on my character have become untenable for me and my family and 3 more months of this would be too hard on us.”
Trump said on Twitter he had asked Moore “to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country.”
The Fed has a seven-member board but has had openings for many months.
Former Fed staffer Nellie Liang, another Trump nominee for the Fed, dropped out in January while economist Marvin Goodfriend’s nomination died in the Senate last year and was not resubmitted.
But Trump has named three current Fed members to the board, including Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, and also promoted Jerome Powell to his current post as board chairman.
Moore in December called on Trump to fire Powell for “wrecking the economy.”
But in a news conference on Wednesday, Powell once again defended the central bank’s independence.
“We don’t think about short term political considerations, we don’t discuss them and we don’t consider them in making our decisions one way or the other,” Powell said.