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Trump considering Herman Cain for Fed board seat, official says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is considering former pizza chain executive and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

Cain met with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, the official said. A decision on the nomination, which would need Senate approval, is not final.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Through an assistant, Cain declined to comment. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

There are currently two vacancies on the seven-member Fed board. Board members have a vote on setting interest rates every time U.S. central bankers meet, making them among America’s most powerful officials for economic policy.

Trump previously nominated former Fed staffer Nellie Liang and Carnegie Mellon University economist Marvin Goodfriend for the openings, although both nominations languished in the Senate. Earlier this month, Liang removed herself from the running and Goodfriend’s nomination lapsed at the end of last year when the previous Congress adjourned.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said there was a large list of candidates for the two slots.

Cain, 73, has some experience with the Fed, serving as a director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 1989 to 1996. The Kansas City Fed is one of 12 regional Fed banks that help process payments in the U.S. banking system and whose presidents take turns voting on interest rate policy. The regional Fed bank directors help oversee operations.

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Cain made his fortune as chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza before making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

He led opinion polls for a while during the Republican nominating contests, buoyed by his signature 9-9-9 tax proposal, which would have levied a flat 9 percent corporate, income and sales tax.

But his popularity slipped amid sexual harassment allegations from several women, which he denied as “completely false.”

Sharon Bialek said in 2011 that Cain made an unwanted advance after a dinner in Washington when she asked for help finding a job after she was laid off by the National Restaurant Association, which he then headed. Two other women lodged formal complaints against Cain when he headed the restaurant association.

Ultimately, Mitt Romney, now a U.S. senator from Utah, won the 2012 Republican nomination. He lost the election to former President Barack Obama.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Jason Lange and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Dan Burns and Peter Cooney