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UPDATE 1-Moore picks up key backing for potential U.S. Fed board post

(Recasts, updates with quotes and background)

May 2 (Reuters) - Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump's pick for a seat on the U.S. Federal Reserve board, picked up a key endorsement from a Senate Republican on Thursday when Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey said he would be "inclined to support" the conservative commentator despite Moore's past sexist comments.

Toomey, who made the remarks in a CNBC interview, is the first Republican in several days to publicly back Moore since he came under fire for past writings that have disparaged women. Moore had defended his opinion columns as humor but now says he regrets them after they became a problematic issue over the past two weeks.

"I think people ought to take a look at those," Toomey said of Moore's writing. "I think they were intended to be tongue-in-cheek. I don't think he's a misogynist or anything of the sort."

Toomey, who more than a decade ago succeeded Moore as head of the Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee Moore had founded, is a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee that would review his nomination if the White House formally submits it, which has not yet occurred.

The White House has said that Moore, now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is undergoing background checks, and if he clears those, the president would submit his name.

Moore, like Trump, has been highly critical of the Fed for raising interest rates last year.

The Fed has since pivoted away from tightening monetary policy and has said it would be patient in determining its next move on rates.

Several Republican senators this week have expressed hesitation about Moore.

On Wednesday, Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said Moore's potential nomination is "in trouble," the Washington Post reported.

That followed comments a day earlier from Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, who said she would be "very unlikely" to support Moore for one of two vacant seats on the Fed's Board of Governors, a seven-member panel of policy makers who vote on U.S. interest rate policy.

That same day, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said a Moore nomination to the Fed would be "very problematic."

(Reporting by Dan Burns in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bernadette Baum)