Ex–Starbucks CEO Could Get Trump Re-elected

Howard Schultz thinks politics are broken, and may run for president as an independent. Democrats think that’s a terrible idea.

The ex–Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a former Democrat, blames both parties for the current situation.

Before there was Jill Stein, there was Ralph Nader. Before there was Nader, there was Ross Perot.

None won. All argued that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party were basically the same, and the only way to make real change was to ditch them both. Each was blamed for siphoning off enough votes to throw the presidential elections.

These days, the difference between the parties is starker than it’s ever been in modern times. Yet here comes Howard Schultz, a billionaire who feels that he might be the answer to American politics, and that he’d run for president as an independent.

Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, says in a 60 Minutes interview already recorded but airing on Sunday that he is thinking very seriously about a presidential run—but he stops short of a full announcement.

He makes clear, however, that if he moves forward, he will do so as an independent.

Already top Democratic operatives working for presidential candidates and beyond say they’re worried that the only thing he’ll accomplish is making sure Donald Trump gets re-elected. It’s more than just sniping at a prospective opponent; word that he might invest in an independent run has many of them clearly worried about how he’d split votes in a general election.

Schultz has seemed to be moving toward a run for months, with interviews and speeches around the country about the inclusive policies that he says he pioneered while in charge of the company in two stints, totaling 24 years. He also talks about his vision of America, much of it informed by a trip he took to Auschwitz, which he discusses in an emotional story.

In a conversation with Scott Pelley, Schultz called this “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,” he says, according to CBS promotional material, which did not include the part of the interview in which Pelley asks Schultz about running himself. Other people familiar with the interview relayed his answers about those questions.

Aides to Schultz did not respond to requests for comment.

“Trump’s strategy has always been divide and conquer, and this plays directly into his hands,” said one Democratic strategist, who was wary of taking on Schultz openly ahead of any announcement. “He’s Ralph Nader without any of Nader’s redeeming qualities. What’s his value proposition for America? Make America like a corporate chain?”

Democrats aren’t the only ones who see…

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