The former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is seriously considering a run for U.S. President as an independent candidate in 2020, according to CNN.
A source close to Schultz told the network Schultz was “exploring a possible independent bid for the presidency in 2020. [He] is thinking deeply about his future and how he can best serve the country,” said the source before adding that all options remained on the table.
Schultz, who is a long-time Democrat supporter, stepped down as CEO of Starbucks last year. Since then he has been scathing in his attacks on President Trump but has also been critical of the Democrats too.
He hinted last year that he was considering a presidential bid, telling CNBC last June, ”President Trump has given license to the fact that someone who is not a politician could potentially run for the presidency.”
CNN claims that Schultz has already begun assembling his campaign team. He is reported to have hired the campaign manager used by John McCain for his 2008 presidential run, Steve Schmidt, who is also a former vice chairman at the huge public relations company Edelman.
Another person believed to be on board is former Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Schultz and Chandrasekaran worked together for a time at Starbucks.
Schultz is currently on a nationwide tour promoting his new book, entitled ‘From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.’ It will be released January 28 and some pundits have suggested that it reads a bit like a centrist political manifesto.
The suggestion that Schultz could run as an independent candidate in 2020 already has the Democrats in a panic. They fear that a Democrat-leaning independent candidate could split the anti-Trump vote and contribute to the President securing a second term in office.
The Seattle Times has quoted Schultz’s local Democrat chairwoman in Washington, Tina Podlodowski, urging Schultz not to run as an independent and saying if he is a Democrat he should run as one.
“I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just. Don’t,” she said, “Too much is at stake to make this about the ambitions of any one person. 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.”
Schultz, whose estimated personal wealth is in excess of $3 billion, is not the only American billionaire plotting a run for the White House. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also thought to be considering a bid. But he is believed to be skeptical about the chances of an independent candidate winning, so is far more likely to run as a Democrat.