Stephen Moore out of Fed contention

Economic commentator Stephen Moore has withdrawn his name from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday.

“Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process. Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans. I’ve asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country,” Trump wrote of Moore, who served as a former 2016 campaign adviser.

The tweet ended rampant speculation about Moore’s future after multiple Republican senators expressed growing doubts about his candidacy amid revelations about decades’ worth of disparaging comments Moore has made about women, extensively reported on by CNN’s KFILE.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, Moore released a statement addressed to Trump.

“I am respectfully asking that you withdraw my name from consideration. The unrelenting attacks on my character have become untenable for me and my family and 3 more months of this would be too hard on us,” Moore wrote.

“I will continue to be a loud economic voice advocating for your policies,” Moore added. “I am always at your disposal.”

Earlier Thursday, CNN reported that conversations were underway in the White House over how to proceed with the bid, according to one official, who said a decision on whether to move forward would likely have to be made by week’s end.

Moore is the second Trump pick to withdraw from consideration for two open seats on the seven-member board of the world’s most influential central bank.

Trump’s other choice, Herman Cain, withdrew his name in late April, citing the pay cut he would have to take. His nomination had revived old claims of sexual harassment that sank his 2012 Republican presidential candidacy. Cain continues to deny the claims.

Unlike Cain, Moore brought longtime conservative bona fides to his candidacy. A former Wall Street Journal editorial board member and co-founder of the Club for Growth, he has deep relationships on Capitol Hill and in the media. Moore is also a former CNN contributor.

Moore was a controversial pick from the start for the normally staid and apolitical Fed, which is responsible for setting interest rate policy for the US economy. Economists and former Fed officials have described him as an ill fit for the central bank over his lack of qualifications and close ties to Trump.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee and a 2020 presidential candidate, cited Moore’s reversals on economic policy since Trump took office in an April letter.

Moore has also drawn scrutiny over his personal financial issues, including unpaid taxes.

But it was Moore’s comments on women’s advancement that appear to have sealed his fate. He initially dismissed the criticism, claiming his columns decades ago for the conservative National Review inveighing against women’s participation in sports and the military were “spoofs.”

But on Tuesday, he said in a fresh interview that he believes the biggest problem in the US economy is the decline in “male earnings.”

“The biggest problem I see in the economy over the last 25 years is what has happened to male earnings — for black males and white males as well. They’ve been declining and that is, I think, a big problem,” Moore said during an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Moore told Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal as late as Thursday morning that he intended to proceed with his nomination.

He said to CNN on Tuesday he planned to sit down with senators to convince them of his seriousness.

“I do need to sit down with every one of them and tell them here’s the truth: I’m not anti-woman,” he said. “When they hear that I think they’ll — hopefully they’ll be supportive.”

On Capitol Hill, the hardest sell appeared to be with Republican women. Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said Tuesday that she would be unlikely to support Moore if he were formally nominated.

“Very unlikely that I would support that person,” she told reporters on her way to the Senate floor, adding that she’s spoken to the White House about it. She previously told CNN that she wasn’t enthused by the pick.

Asked if she thought he’d be confirmed if he came up for a vote, Ernst replied: “I don’t think so.”

On Thursday, Ernst told CNN, “I am very very thankful that he decided not to pursue it.”

She added that the lesson for the White House is “vetting, vetting, vetting.”

Before his withdrawal, other key figures like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska acknowledged “reservations” about Moore, and West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said “it’s hard to look past some of those,” referring to Moore’s past positions.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking GOP leader, also told reporters Tuesday that “it would be helpful” for the White House to vet nominees more fully before announcing them publicly.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.