Herman Cain says he dropped out of Fed running because of the pay cut

4 GOP senators said they wouldn't confirm him

By Donna Borak, CNN
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Herman Cain

(CNN) - Embattled Federal Reserve pick Herman Cain says he is withdrawing his name from consideration for a seat on the bank's powerful board of governors for a simple reason: He doesn't want a pay cut.

In a blog post on conservative news site the Western Journal, Cain wrote that he had spent the weekend reconsidering his interest in a nomination.

"Without getting too specific about how big a pay cut this would be, let's just say I'm pretty confident that if your boss told you to take a similar pay cut, you'd tell him where to go," Cain wrote.

Salaries of board members are set annually by Congress. For 2019, Cain would have received a yearly salary of $183,100. The Fed chair and the vice chairman are paid $203,500.

Cain was named in early April as the second of President Donald Trump's picks for two open seats on the influential Fed board, which sets US interest rate policy, along with economic commentator Stephen Moore.

But Cain's nomination has been shadowed by the revival of sexual harassment allegations that ended his 2012 Republican presidential bid, which Cain has steadfastly denied. His path to confirmation was thrown into doubt after four Republican senators said publicly they would not vote to confirm him, but Cain said as recently as last Thursday that he would not drop out of contention.

In his post, however, Cain said he spent the Easter weekend reconsidering. The 73-year old said he liked the idea of serving on the Fed but wondered if he would be "giving up too much influence to get a little bit of policy impact."

If confirmed by the Senate, Cain would have been forced to divest most of his business interests, rescind any commitments to serve on boards and be prohibited from making regular paid appearances on Fox Business due to ethical concerns.

After praying over the weekend, Cain wrote, he changed his mind, calling White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to inform him of his decision.

"It was an honor to be considered," wrote Cain. "Under different circumstances, I would like to have served."

Trump announced earlier Monday in a tweet that the former Republican presidential candidate, who he described as a "truly wonderful man," had asked not to be nominated for a seat on the board of the world's most influential central bank.

"I will respect his wishes," Trump wrote. "Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!"

Cain's exit from the process comes less than a week after he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview he would not remove himself from consideration and was "very committed" to securing the nomination, but he faced an uphill battle.

Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza Inc., has some prior experience at the Fed. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Each of the 12 regional Fed banks has a nine-person board that includes local executives.

The President floated his desire to name Cain for a seat on the seven-member Fed board earlier this month.

Trump's other pick, Moore -- a former 2016 campaign adviser -- has drawn opposition from Democrats over his closeness to Trump and his reversals on interest rate policy.

CNN's KFile reported Monday that as a National Review columnist in the early 2000s, Moore wrote multiple columns decrying the participation of women in professional sports events. Moore said in an email that the columns were spoofs.

Moore, a former Wall Street Journal editorial board member, was a CNN contributor from 2017 until earlier this year.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that lawmakers should be tough on Moore.

"Herman Cain was woefully unqualified to be on the Federal Reserve and his failure to garner adequate support should not be used as a pathway by Senate Republicans to approve Stephen Moore, who is equally unqualified, and perhaps more political," the New York Democrat said. "Mr. Cain clearly saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his name from consideration; hopefully Senate Republicans will again voice their deep concerns and force Mr. Moore to do the same."

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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