President Trump didn’t waste any time in attacking a potential 2020 rival, Howard Schultz, tweeting Monday that the former Starbucks chief executive lacks the “guts” to mount a White House bid.
Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, hasn’t declared a candidacy yet, but in an interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, he said he is “seriously thinking of running for president as an independent candidate.
“I [would] run as a centrist independent,” Schultz said, “outside of the two-party system. We’re living at a most fragile time — 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.”
Schultz, who built Starbucks into a global chain, is worth an estimated $3.1 billion, and is expected to self-fund at least part of his candidacy.
“I want to see the American people win,” he continued. “I want to see America win. I don’t care if you’re a 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 added: “I have a long history of recognizing I’m not the smartest person in the room, that in order to make great decisions about complex problems, I have to recruit and attract people who are smarter than me and more experienced, more skilled and we’ve got to create an understanding that we need a creative debate in the room to make these kind of decisions.”
“Howard Schultz doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President!” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the ‘smartest person.’ Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!
But Democrats think a run by Schultz could be the best thing to happen to Trump, pulling independents and moderates away from whoever wins the Democratic nomination. Neera Tanden, a prominent progressive activist and head of the Center for American Progress, said she would call for a boycott of Starbucks if Schultz runs.
“Vanity projects that help destroy democracy are disgusting,” Tanden said in a Twitter post. “If he enters the race, I will start a Starbucks boycott because I’m not giving a penny that will end up in the election coffers of a guy who will help Trump win.”
Schultz, 65, stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in April 2017, immediately stoking talk of a potential presidential bid.
“I’ll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds,” Schultz wrote in a company memo at the time.
The timing of Schultz’s announcement Sunday is, not coincidentally, tied to the publication of his new book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” due out this week.
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