Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed

Conservatives are rallying around economist Stephen Moore as President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel ‘inappropriate’ press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release ‘lightly redacted’ version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of ‘unprecedented steps’ to ‘spin’ Mueller report MORE‘s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve Board faces a tough fight ahead.

Moore’s allies in conservative circles are urging the president and GOP Senate to stand by the controversial potential nominee, who is facing criticism from across the political spectrum and new questions about the White House’s support.

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More than 100 economists, professors and activists issued a statement Monday backing Moore for a spot on the Fed board, and the organizers say others are seeking to join the list.

“Steve’s view of the world is something that’s going to be brand new for the Fed and they need to hear it,” Arthur Laffer, a prominent conservative economist close to Moore, said in a phone interview. Laffer was among the Moore supporters who signed the letter.

But their efforts to build momentum for Moore, who has not been formally nominated and is still being vetted, faced fresh uncertainty on Tuesday.

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters that officials are interviewing other candidates to potentially replace Moore and Herman Cain, another nominee to the Fed board, as the president’s picks.

“We’re talking to a number of candidates. We always do,” Kudlow said. “Stephen Moore is in the process. We support him. We support Herman Cain.”

“We’ll just let things play out in the vetting,” Kudlow added.

Moore’s supporters are urging the administration to stick by their pick.

“I just hope against hope that there’s not an attempt to replace him,” said Laffer.

Moore declined to comment to The Hill.

Even before Kudlow’s remarks, Moore faced a challenging path.

Critics of Moore have seized on his decades of partisan and often controversial commentary. His detractors say Moore’s harsh attacks on Fed officials, close ties to Trump and support for contentious economic ideas make him unfit for the central bank.

Trump floated nominating Moore and Cain to the central bank last month, sparking a firestorm of criticism. Cain, who ran for president in 2012, reportedly is considering withdrawing his name after GOP senators made it clear he lacked the votes for confirmation.

Those who support Moore say his unapologetic advocacy for conservative ideals would add a fresh perspective to the Fed. They also argue that he would find a way to work with the rest of his central bank colleagues despite his often-brash criticism of its current leadership.

Moore has long been a conservative voice in Washington but gained new prominence in 2016 as a Trump campaign adviser, working closely with future Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Cain ‘very committed’ to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Treasury targets Venezuelan central bank with sanctions Mnuchin plans to hire ex-Fox News contributor Monica Crowley: report MORE and others to craft Trump’s economic agenda.

After the election, Moore became the chief evangelist for Trump’s economic policies. He advocated for the president’s proposed tax and spending cuts in several interviews and op-eds, including for The Hill, and co-authored a book with Laffer praising “Trumponomics.”

As Trump ramped up his criticism of the Fed’s rate hikes throughout 2018, Moore echoed his concerns. Moore called for the firing of top Fed officials and economists several times and accused Trump’s handpicked chairman, Jerome Powell, of incompetence.

GOP senators have recoiled at Trump’s consistent attacks on the Fed, and some Republicans have expressed concerns that Moore’s loyalty to the president could impede the central bank’s independence.

Other concerns include the more than $70,000 in taxes the IRS says he owes the federal government — a claim Moore disputes.

Republicans have already derailed two of Trump’s Fed picks. And one week after Trump floated Cain for the Fed board, four GOP senators said they would not support him, all but dooming a nomination.

Moore’s supporters are vying to protect him from a similar fate.

His allies say that Moore is far friendlier in private than his soundbites would let on and expressed confidence he would win over his Fed colleagues if confirmed.

“In person, he’s not that confrontational at all,” Laffer said.

“Once they meet him and sit down with him,” Laffer said of Fed officials, “they’ll fall for him like the rest of us do.”

Some Republicans have also rejected the notion that Moore’s partisan background and outspokenness should bar him from the Fed.

“If anything, what concerns me is this trend toward disqualifying people who have opinions [and] have expressed them,” said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerCain says he won’t back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed Senate bill seeks to bring freedom back to banking MORE (R-N.D.), who opposed Cain’s nomination, on Friday. “We’re going to have to start building robots for these jobs if we aren’t careful.”

No GOP senators have come out and opposed Moore for the Fed. And many have praised his record of advocacy for conservative economic ideals, while stopping short of directly endorsing him.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTen post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators On The Money: Conservatives rally behind Moore for Fed | White House interviewing other candidates | Trump, Dems spar on Tax Day | Budget watchdogs bemoan ‘debt denialism’ GOP senators double down on demand for Clinton email probe documents MORE (R-Iowa) called Moore “a good economist, free-market guy” that “ought to have a big voice in D.C.” And Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig Shelby20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Conservatives urge Trump to stick with Moore for Fed Poll: Roy Moore leading Alabama GOP field MORE (R-Ala.), the longest-tenured Republican on the Banking Committee, said Moore has “a lot of experience” in federal economic policy.

Moore’s critics counter that his unconventional economic opinions reflect a lack of fitness for the Fed. He faced a grilling in a live CNN interview last week over his shifting support for the gold standard, and economists have rebuffed his claims that broad price declines do not show up in federal inflation data.

Moore’s allies have pushed back on concerns about his intellectual qualifications.

“He’s got a long history of being a small-government Republican,” said J.W. Verret, a law professor at George Mason University. “The fact that he’s done some think tank punditry shouldn’t be held against him.”

If nominated, though, Moore can afford to lose few Republicans, with Democrats already vowing to give him a tough hearing.

In a letter to Moore, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Defense: Reports detail effect of transgender military ban | Watchdog auditing 8 billion submarine program | Warren questions top general on climate change Booker calls for sweeping voting rights reforms Warren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100 MORE (D-Mass.), who sits on the Banking panel and is certain to oppose him, raised his past remarks, saying they “strongly suggest that you lack the capacity to exercise the seriousness, care, consistency, and political independence expected of members of the Board of Governors.”

Updated at 9:28 p.m

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