Top Democrats say they fear that an independent presidential run in 2020 by billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz would serve mainly to siphon off enough voters from the Democratic nominee to help hand President Donald Trump a second term.
“I do share that concern, if he did run… it would provide Trump with his best hope for getting re-elected,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who recently announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Schultz said in an interview set to air Sunday evening on “60 Minutes” that he’s seriously considering a presidential run in 2020 ― and that he would likely do so as an independent candidate.
“We’re living at a most-fragile time,” Schultz said in the interview. “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, 65 and a life-long Democrat, would offer himself as an antidote to the bitter political division in Washington, according to The Atlantic magazine. He’s already begun hiring consultants, including Steve Schmidt, the manager for former Arizona Sen. John McCain’s Republican presidential campaign in 2008. Next week, Schultz is slated to launch a book tour.
Trump’s approval rating in polls during his first two years in office has rarely crossed the 45 percent mark, suggesting that a viable independent candidate could appeal to alienated GOP voters as well as some Democrats. And that, in turn, could fracture the electorate in ways that enable Trump to win the 2020 race thanks to unwavering backing from his core supporters.
“I would suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact” of an independent presidential campaign, Castro said.
Other top Democrats similarly decried the prospect of a Schultz candidacy, saying it would be nothing but good news for Trump.
The Democratic Party of Washington state, where Schultz’s former coffee company is based, trolled the would-be candidate on Twitter: