WASHINGTON — Stephen Moore’s Federal Reserve board nomination appears to be under pressure as Democrats and even some Republicans are balking at controversial comments Moore has made about women in his long career as a conservative commentator.

“I’m not enthused about what he has said in various articles. I think it’s ridiculous,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told The Washington Post on Monday.

Ernst didn’t say whether she was troubled enough by the remarks not to vote for Moore, but her remarks are the latest indication that Moore would likely face a tough confirmation process in the Senate.

The White House hasn’t formally nominated Moore for one of the two remaining openings on the Federal Reserve board. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that the White House is looking into Moore’s past comments, which include saying there would be societal problems if men were not the breadwinners in the family, denouncing coed sports and saying female athletes do “inferior work” to men.

“Certainly we’re reviewing those comments. When we have an update on that front we’ll let you know,” Sanders said.

Moore would likely need almost all of the 53 GOP votes in the Senate in order to be confirmed, since Democrats and many economists say Moore is unqualified and would compromise the independence of the Fed. Moore was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has said the president should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in economics.

No Republican has said explicitly that he or she would not vote for Moore, but there is unease about his messy divorce, his call in December for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to be fired and his numerous digs about women over the years.

“I hope they’re things he’d like to reconsider,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday after reviewing some of Moore’s remarks about females.

A GOP senator speaking anonymously to discuss conference dynamics said Republicans would prefer that Trump never formally nominates Moore, but that Moore would likely be confirmed if the vote were held now. The senator said that concerns about Moore don’t rise to the level of those with Herman Cain, who withdrew from consideration last week after four Republicans senators said they would not vote for him because of his flamboyant style and allegations of sexual harassment against him by four women.

Moore is fighting the IRS over $75,000 in unpaid taxes and was found in contempt of court for not paying his ex-wife more than $330,000 in child support and alimony in 2013. The Club for Growth, a conservative political group, was fined $350,000 by the Federal Election Commission for improper actions when Moore was president of the organization. His long record of appearing on TV and writing columns also includes a number of statements that are outside of the mainstream, such as calling for a return to the gold standard.

“I think when things are drip by drip – taxes, alimony, child support, questions on all of this – I said it’s . . . doesn’t help any,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. “But one, he hasn’t been nominated, and he’s entitled to a hearing if he is nominated. He does have some experience in a lot of ways. We’ll see what happens.”

Moore appeared on TV and radio outlets Sunday to apologize for his past comments about women, saying they were meant as “humor columns” that he now regrets writing.

Moore is also under fire for saying in 2014 that Cleveland and Cincinnati are the “armpits of America.” The Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have urged their states’ senators to vote against Moore, calling him out of touch with Middle America.

“Such ‘armpit’ comments however are unacceptable, even if they were made in jest. He should not be named to the Fed,” wrote the editorial board of the Toledo Blade.

Moore said Sunday that he grew up in the Chicago area, where he was taught not to like rival cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati but that he had to admit Ohio is doing very well economically now.

 


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