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Ex-Starbucks CEO Schultz said firming up White House bid

Democrats fear Independent run could split Democratic vote and hand Trump a second term

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz as he speaks during Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Washington, March 17, 2015.(AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / STEPHEN BRASHEAR)
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz as he speaks during Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Washington, March 17, 2015.(AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / STEPHEN BRASHEAR)

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz appears to be pushing forward with plans to run as an Independent candidate in the 2020 US presidential election.

In a recorded interview set to air Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the billionaire who retired last year from the worldwide coffee giant told interviewers that he is exploring a 2020 bid for president as an Independent candidate, The Atlantic reported.

“We’re living at a most fragile time,” Schultz told CBS. “Not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics.”

The network released a snippet of the interview ahead of the show, but omitted the part reported by the Atlantic magazine in which Schultz says he is running.

The move has Democratic Party officials worried that Schultz would siphon off votes from a Democratic presidential candidate and hand US President Donald Trump a second term, the report said.

US President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, January 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just. Don’t,” said Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the Washington Democratic Party, in a statement, the Seattle Times reported.

“Too much is at stake to make this about the ambitions of any one person,” she said. “The 2020 race for President has to be about relegating Donald Trump to the dustbin of history, and reclaiming the Oval Office for our people and our future.”

Other Independent presidential candidates in recent history include Texas industrialist Ross Perot, who ran twice, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who ran in four elections. Perot captured almost 19 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, finishing third behind Bill Clinton and George Bush, while Nader was seen as a possible spoiler in 2000 when George W. Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore.

In a CBS interview last year while visiting Italy, Schultz also broached the idea of running for the White House.

“We have to ask ourselves what kind of country do we want to live in. What kind of world do we want to live in,” Schultz said. “And as citizens, not only as politicians, as citizens and as parents. This is not a time for any of us to be a bystander, to be indifferent, but to make a difference and to be heard.”

In recent years, Schultz, who grew up in an impoverished Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, has been vocal on national issues. In 2017, Schultz said Starbucks planned to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in a letter to employees addressing Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned refugees from entering the United States.

At the time, Schultz also attacked Trump’s plan to make Mexico pay for a border wall.

“Building bridges, not walls, with Mexico,” he wrote, voicing support for the country that has provided Starbucks with coffee for three decades and where nearly 600 Starbucks coffee shops employ 7,000 people.

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