Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) would prefer Janet Yellen to Larry Summers to lead the Federal Reserve, but he still intends to vote against her if President Barack Obama nominates her for the job.
Speaking in Wichita on Monday, Roberts went after Summers, who previously served as Obama's top economic adviser. When asked whether he would want to see Summers succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman, Roberts replied, "I wouldn't want Larry Summers to mow my yard. He's terribly controversial and brusque, and I don't think he works well with either side of the aisle, quite frankly."
The Wichita Eagle reported that Roberts also said he supported Yellen, currently the Fed's vice chair, for the top spot, although he was concerned whether she would be a "very strong leader."
In a follow-up interview with Politico, Roberts clarified that his comments were "never intended to endorse" Yellen.
"I don't like being the lone coyote on the Hill saying I'm for her," he said, adding that he plans to vote against her because he's concerned that she will continue "easy money" policies.
Roberts reiterated that he still believes Yellen is better than Summers, then told the Politico reporter, "But I think you are as well."
He said he would prefer Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George or Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chairman Tom Hoenig.
Roberts' office did not return a request for additional comment.
Obama has stated that both Summers and Yellen, as well as former Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, are contenders for the nomination. He plans to make his decision in the fall.
Summers has the strong support of some longtime advisers to Obama, such as former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, while Yellen has the backing of many Democratic Senate and House members.