UPDATE 1-White House confident Bernanke to be confirmed

Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:36am EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is confident Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be confirmed by the Senate for a second term, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said on Sunday.

"The president is very confident that the chairman will be confirmed," Axelrod said on CNN.

In a sign of how worried the White House is about a sudden recent surge in opposition to Bernanke's renomination, Obama contacted the Democratic Senate leadership on Saturday to make sure it had enough votes.

"The readings he's getting from his conversations are that Chairman Bernanke will be confirmed," Axelrod said.

Bernanke's second term suddenly appeared at risk on Friday after two Senate Democrats announced their opposition.

They joined a growing number of senators who vowed to vote against his appointment as November's congressional elections approach against a backdrop of broad frustration with the economy and anger over the way Washington rescued banks.

Axelrod defended Bernanke's handling of the financial crisis.

"We're still in a fragile state here, even though the economy is growing and we need his leadership," Axelrod said.

"He has been a very steady hand in this crisis. He's taken initiatives that have been important in terms of stabilizing the economy." (Reporting by Vicki Allen; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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