President Donald Trump is considering whether to appoint former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain for a spot on the Federal Reserve's board, two people familiar with the process said, a reflection of the less-formalized vetting process at the White House for top posts.
Cain ran for president in 2012 but lost to the Republican primary to Mitt Romney. A former pizza industry executive, he became famous for his simplified tax plan, known as "Nine-Nine-Nine," and for complaints that he sexually harassed women.
Trump met with Cain about the position on Wednesday, two people familiar with the meeting said.
Asked for comment on whether he is being considered for the post in an interview, Cain jokingly made a play on his famous tax proposal and said "None-None-None."
He confirmed, though, that he was at the White House.
"It's hard to miss a 6-foot black man in a black hat walking out of the White House," he said.
Bloomberg News first reported that Cain was under consideration.
It isn't clear whether Trump is close to picking Cain for the spot. A number of outside advisers have floated names for people they want Trump to consider, and Trump likes to meet with celebrities and television personalities as part of his daily routine.
Whoever Trump nominates will need the support of at least 50 members of the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
Two of the seats on the Fed's seven-member board are vacant. Trump has already nominated two people for the slots, but former senior Fed official Nellie Liang recently withdrew from consideration.
Trump spent much of last year lambasting the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, for taking steps to raise interest rates. Trump said the Fed was damaging economic growth by making it too expensive for companies to borrow money. The Fed has recently paused this approach in the face of new economic head winds.
It is not uncommon to have someone with private-sector experience on the Fed's board, but it would be unusual for someone to have a former presidential candidate like Cain on the Fed's board. Fed governors are mostly known for being deferential to the chairman, and Cain is known for being very outspoken on a range of issues.
Cain served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, but those posts are often given to business executives and community leaders who serve to inform top Fed officials about what they are seeing in the labor market and economy more broadly.
He attracted a lot of attention during the 2012 but was repeatedly followed by accusations of sexually harassing women during the 1990s. Cain fought back against the allegations, saying they were efforts to derail his campaign.
The "Nine-Nine-Nine" tax plan would have dramatically reworked the tax system. It would set tax rates at nine percent for income tax, sales tax, and corporate tax.
The Washington Post's Heather Long contributed.