Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announces he's 'seriously considering running for president' as an independent

FilmMagic/Michael Tran via Getty ImagesHoward Schultz attends the GLSEN Respect Awards held at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 19, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Sunday he’s “seriously considering” running for president.
  • Schultz said he would run as a “centrist independent,” and in a “60 Minutes” interview criticised both the Democratic and Republican parties for engaging in “revenge politics.”
  • In response to criticisms that his candidacy would divert votes from Democratic candidates and potentially hand a second term to President Donald Trump, Schultz said his lack of party affiliation would be a “win” for Americans.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced Sunday he is seriously considering a 2020 bid as an independent candidate.

“I love our country, and I am seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent,” he tweeted Sunday evening.

In an interview with The New York Times, Schultz said he’ll be travelling across the country for a book tour during the next three months, during which he will decide whether to formally declare his candidacy.

In a “60 Minutes” interview with correspondent Scott Pelley, Schultz hammered President Donald Trump for his lack of qualifications. But he also took aim at both Democrats and Republicans for sowing division across the country and contributing to what he said was a “fragile time” in America.

“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,” he said.

Schultz told The Times he also wouldn’t consider running as a Democrat, because he would “have to be disingenuous” and adopt the party’s leftward shift on certain policies.

“When I hear people espousing free government-paid college, free government-paid health care, and a free government job for everyone – on top of a $US21 trillion debt – the question is, how are we paying for all this and not bankrupting the country?” he said.

Read more: Here’s everyone who has officially announced they are running for president in 2020

Rumours of an independent campaign from Schultz have been percolating for weeks, and set Democrats across the country on edge.

Already, Democratic 2020 candidates have begun chiming in on a potential Schultz bid, warning the former Starbucks chief that an independent candidacy could help Trump’s chances rather than hurt them.

“I have a concern that if he did run, that essentially it would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected,” Democratic presidential candidate Juli├ín Castro told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “I would truly suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that that might make.”

“I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just. Don’t,” Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said in a statement, as Business Insider’s Kate Taylor reported.

When asked by Pelley whether he feared his candidacy could “siphon” votes away from Democratic candidates and propel Trump to a second victory, Schultz said his lack of party affiliation would be a “win” for Americans.

“I want to see the American people win. I want to see America win,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re Democrat, independent, Libertarian, Republican, bring me your ideas, and I will be an independent person who will embrace those ideas, because I am not in any way in bed with a party.”

Schultz also told The Times he believed the criticism was misplaced, and that he wasn’t doing this to be a “spoiler.”

“I am certainly prepared for the cynics and the naysayers to come out and say this cannot be done,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t agree with them. I think it’s un-American to say it can’t be done.”

Schultz was CEO of Starbucks until he stepped down in April 2017. He later stepped down as chairman in June 2018 and again triggered rumours of a presidential bid. Schultz’s book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” is coming out January 28.

Lydia Ramsey contributed reporting.

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