Trump Fed choice Stephen Moore withdraws amid controversy
WASHINGTON — Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator whom President Donald Trump had tapped for the Federal Reserve board, withdrew from consideration Thursday after losing Republican support in the Senate, largely over his past inflammatory writings about women.
Trump tweeted the news of Moore's withdrawal, only hours after Moore had told two news organizations that he was still seeking the board seat and still had the White House's support.
The president announced otherwise Thursday afternoon on Twitter.
"Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans," Trump said. "I've asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country."
In a note to Trump that he released later, Moore said the "unrelenting attacks on my character have become untenable for me and my family and three more months of this would be too hard on us."
"I am always at your disposal," he concluded.
Speaking later to Fox Business Network, Moore offered a combative defense of his candidacy for the Fed. "It was very disappointing that this couldn't go forward," he said.
Numerous Republican senators had said they objected to Moore's disparaging past writings about women or had sidestepped questions about whether they would back him. In recent weeks, Moore said he regretted the writings and said they had been meant as humor columns.
The Senate's second-ranking Republican, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, had said Wednesday that Moore "has issues" in the Senate, which must confirm any nominees for the Fed's board.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said it was "hard to look past" Moore's previous statements, while Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said his comments were a topic on which she would have questioned him.
In 2000, in a column for the Washington Times, Moore wondered why women "showed up in droves in tight skirts" at college parties if "they were so oppressed and offended by drunken, lustful frat boys."
He also said women should not cover basketball games on television unless they wore revealing clothes.
"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," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the top Senate Democrat, said in a statement. "Now President Trump must nominate two serious candidates who will strengthen our economy."
Yet finding someone who fits the mold Trump seems to be seeking in a Fed governor is problematic. The president appears to be aiming for a reliable political ally who will push the Fed to cut short-term interest rates. Most traditional right-leaning economists, though, have pushed for higher interest rates for most of the past decade. Any, like Moore, who have reversed themselves to embrace the dovish approach favored by Trump might have a hard time winning Senate support.
Trump had also named Herman Cain, a former presidential candidate and business executive, for a second open seat on the Fed's board. But Cain withdrew last week after coming under renewed scrutiny for allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity which first surfaced during the campaign.
Some experts say that David Beckworth, a research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, might fit what Trump is seeking — a right-of-center economist who has pushed for low rates for most of the past decade.
Beckworth has declined to comment.