Former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is reportedly assembling an elite public relations team as he prepares to release his new book From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America, and considers running for president of the United States.
According to CNBC, Shultz’s team includes Steve Schmidt, who managed Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008.
Shultz is one of those being considered as a potential candidate to take on President Donald Trump in two years. Schmidt, the former vice chairman of public relations powerhouse Edelman, appears as the best person to help with a Schultz presidential campaign as Schultz’s experience is mainly in business and not in the political arena.
People familiar with the relationship said that the two got to know each other through a partnership between Edelman and Starbucks, and they remained in touch even after Schultz left the coffee company earlier this year. Schmidt is said to have continued doing private consulting work for Schultz on a range of other issues.
Schultz also reportedly recruited Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a senior correspondent at Washington Post before he joined Starbucks in 2015 to help Schultz work on social issues.
People who are close to Schultz said that Chandrasekaran is one of the closest confidantes of the former Starbucks head.
Political strategists think that Schultz sends a clear signal that he eyes running for president by enlisting the help of the PR team.
Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf thinks that Schultz is putting together a team that could help in different ways should he decide to run for the nation’s highest public office.
“He wants to show people he can put together a team quickly and the best presidential campaigns have people from multidisciplinary sectors, from the private sector to those in political work,” Sheinkopf said.
“Bringing all different types of people into the operation shows you know what you’re doing and it’s a warning to other candidates.”
Schultz, however, has not yet announced any formal plan to make a presidential run in 2020. He even downplayed the speculations when he was asked earlier this year if he was considering the idea of running for president.
“I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future,” he told the New York Times in June.
Shultz joined Starbucks in 1982, expanded it into other cities in 1987, and took the company public in 1992. He retired as its executive chairman in June.