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Republican leader predicts Bernanke confirmation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate Republican leader said on Wednesday he expects Ben Bernanke to win Senate confirmation to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve with bipartisan support.

"I think he has a lot of support among Democrats and enough among Republicans that he will get the requisite number of votes," Senator John Thune, the chamber's fourth-ranking Republican, told Reuters in a hallway interview on Capitol Hill.

While Bernanke has plenty of supporters, he also has a number of critics, Democrats and Republicans.

Yet Thune indicated that he expects Bernanke to hit the needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to clear the way for confirmation.

Democrats who control the chamber have said that they would like to confirm Bernanke as soon as possible, and that a vote could be held as early as Friday, but that no final decision on timing has been made.

Bernanke'Bernanke'sd first four-year term expires on January 31.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Andrew Hay)