02:49 - Source: CNN
Trump stands by controversial Fed pick Herman Cain
CNN  — 

Herman Cain will not remove himself from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Wednesday.

The former Republican presidential candidate and restaurant executive was named by President Donald Trump earlier this month but has not yet been formally nominated pending White House vetting. He told the paper that he is “very committed” to continuing with the process.

He also said the board of the world’s most powerful central bank needs “new voices.”

But Cain faces no clear path to confirmation. Four Republican senators said last week that they would not vote for him, in part because of the sexual assault allegations that ended his 2012 presidential bid.

Cain continues to deny those claims, including in a video posted to Facebook after Trump named him as his intended choice.

Trump has broken past presidential precedent by openly railing against Fed rate hikes last year under the leadership of Jerome Powell, the chairman Trump picked in 2017.

He’s sparked concerns about the future independence of the Federal Reserve with his selection of Cain – who previously sat on the board of the central bank’s regional Kansas City branch – as well as economic commentator Stephen Moore, a former Wall Street Journal editorial board member and CNN contributor.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that Cain is being actively vetted, and that it would be up to Cain “as to whether he wants to stay in that process or not.”

“As far as we’re concerned, he’s in the process, we support him,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House.

He added, however, that the administration is still considering alternates.

“We’re talking to a number of candidates,” he said.

Cain told the Journal that Kudlow was encouraging when they last spoke, adding: “What Kudlow was doing was giving me an out, and I appreciate that, but I don’t want an out. I don’t want an out.”

The former restaurant executive said that Kudlow suggested naming him for the Fed job in January because of Trump’s irritation over interest rate increases, which Cain said Wednesday had previously been “too quick.”

Cain expressed confidence in Trump and Kudlow weathering any controversy surrounding his nomination, calling them each “a fighter.”

“They might be getting a lot of blowback from some folks, I don’t know,” he told the Journal. “But I don’t think they’re getting uncomfortable with it.”

CNN’s Donna Borak contributed to this report.