President Donald Trump's plan to name conservative pundit Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve Board could be doomed to failure, as a number of Republican senators were cool to his bid Tuesday because of his past sarcastic writings about women and other issues.
Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, said she likely will not vote for Moore and also said she does not believe he currently has the votes to win approval in the Senate.
"Oh, Stephen Moore?" Ernst said when NBC News asked about his nomination. "I am going to make a comment there: Very unlikely that I would support that person." Ernst also said she has told the White House about her concerns with Moore.
Ernst's chilly view of Moore came shortly after fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters that Moore being named to the Fed will be "a very problematic nomination."
Moore, who has echoed Trump's criticism of the Fed for hiking interest rates last year, cannot afford to lose four Republican senators' support if he hopes to survive the nomination process. Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the chamber.
Trump's other recent Fed pick, businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, recently dropped out from contention after it became clear he lacked enough Republican support in the Senate to win approval.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave a tepid response when reporters asked him about Moore, whose nomination has yet to be formally submitted to the Senate.
"Well, we're happy to receive nominations when we get them, there are a lot of people who are being considered for all kinds of positions that are not yet nominated," McConnell said. "And if he is nominated we'll cross that bridge when we get there."
The choice of Moore for the central bank has been controversial from the start because of concerns he would be too apt to do what Trump wanted on the Fed board, and because of his track record on economic predictions. On Tuesday, Moore told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that declining earnings among men is the biggest challenge facing the economy.
His bid has come under more fire in recent weeks with disclosures of his having had a $75,000 income tax lien, being found in contempt of court for shorting his ex-wife on more than $300,000 in a divorce settlement, and writing humor columns about women.
In one column, Moore said women should not be allowed to referee men's basketball games in the NCAA tournament, and in another said that if women earned more than their husbands if could "be disruptive to family stability."
Sen Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, "I think his statements definitely" are of concern.
""So we'll have to see — if he gets nominated and then what he says before the committee," Capito said.
"It's hard to look past some of those" writings, she said.
Ernst also had mentioned Moore's writings on Tuesday.
"I'm not enthused about what he has said in various articles," Ernst said, according to the Bloomberg news service. "I think it's ridiculous."
"It looks like drip by drip," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said of the stories about Moore, Bloomberg reported. Shelby also said he thinks Moore's nomination has "some problems."
Sen Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn, said, "If he is nominated then I will visit with him.""
"Of course his comments are something that are not good and you can guarantee, big guarantee, absolutely without fail, if I visit him that would be a topic of discussion," Blackburn said.The GOP has a three-seat majority in the Senate, but every Democrat and independent are likely to vote against Moore.
Moore could win confirmation if only three Republicans voted against him — given Vice President Mike Pence's power to break a tie, 50-50 vote — but his bid for a Fed seat could be doomed if four GOP members come out against him.