President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked Republican senators for a show-of-hands poll on two candidates he is considering to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) said the president, who was on Capitol Hill at a Senate GOP caucus lunch, asked the group which candidate they preferred to lead the Fed -- current Fed governor Jerome Powell or Stanford University economics professor John Taylor.
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"I think Taylor won, but he did not announce a winner," Mr. Scott said.
The president also mentioned current Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, but didn't include her in the informal poll.
"I couldn't tell which way he was going," said Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.), who sits on the Senate Banking Committee.
Mr. Scott, who is also on the committee, said "at this point" he supports Mr. Taylor to lead the central bank over Mr. Powell, though he said former Fed governor Kevin Warsh "shouldn't be discounted either."
Mr. Trump has interviewed Messrs. Taylor, Powell and Warsh and Ms. Yellen for the job. His top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is also a candidate.
One person familiar with Mr. Trump's search said he has narrowed the candidates to two front-runners: Messrs. Taylor and Powell. This person cautioned, though, that Mr. Trump still could reach deeper into the list of five finalists and tap someone else.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked Tuesday at a press conference about whether Messrs. Taylor and Powell are the president's top candidates, said, "Those are certainly individuals that he's looking at" and added that "we will have an announcement soon."
As he conducts the search, Mr. Trump has been consulting various White House aides, cabinet members, friends and past associates from the business world, advisers say.
One top adviser is Vice President Mike Pence, who has personally interviewed Messrs. Powell, Taylor and Warsh. The vice president spoke to Mr. Warsh on Thursday -- the same day Ms. Yellen interviewed with the president in the Oval Office.
White House officials said the president is putting considerable thought into the selection, aware of the stakes. He has informally sought advice on the Fed job in Oval Office meetings devoted to other subjects, the person familiar with the matter said.
The president told reporters Monday he is "very, very close" to a decision.
The prospects of different candidates have risen, fallen and risen again as Mr. Trump weighs his options.
Mr. Cohn appeared to be a front-runner early in the summer, but his stock fell in August after he publicly criticized Mr. Trump's remarks about a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va.
Since then, Mr. Cohn has worked his way back into consideration, though he is in a tier below Messrs. Powell and Taylor, advisers said.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), another member of the Senate Banking Committee, which would hold confirmation hearings on Mr. Trump's nominee, said he raised his hand for both candidates in the president's luncheon poll.
"I said, 'They're both good,'" Mr. Shelby said. "There are some other good candidates out there, too."
Sen. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) said he was sitting in the back of the room during lunch and didn't see very many hands go up for one candidate or the other.
"The vast majority just kind of grinned at him," he said, and played down the president's request for a show of hands as "conversational."
"It was like, 'Hey, who do you want me to do?' One of those kind of deals," the banking committee member said.
Mr. Rounds said he didn't raise his hand, and doesn't have a preferred candidate or any concerns with the slate of candidates under consideration.
Mr. Trump's nominee would be subject to Senate confirmation and would take office in early February, after Ms. Yellen's current term as chairwoman expires.
Natalie Andrews contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 24, 2017 17:10 ET (21:10 GMT)