Former Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz on Sunday continued to fuel speculation over his presidential candidacy in 2020, telling CBS's 60 Minutes that he's considering entering the race—as an independent.
"I am seriously thinking of running for president. I will run as a centrist independent outside of the two-party system," he told CBS. "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."
Despite the fact that Schultz acknowledged he's been a lifelong Democrat, he made a bizarre pivot and reiterated many Republican talking points, by slamming: "extremes on both sides," a claim Trump tosses around in response to criticisms about his response to white supremacy; "revenge politics," another phrase popularized during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings; and the $21 trillion in national debt, a statistic GOP candidates have long exhibited to show fiscal responsibility.
The Democratic Party was not pleased. For one thing, Schultz's candidacy as an independent would potentially draw some anti-Donald Trump centrists who would have otherwise voted for the Democratic candidate. The billionaire with name recognition, who's long claimed to have been a critic of the president, could jeopardize Democrats' chances of winning and help Trump ensure re-election.
"Howard Schultz running as an independent isn't about bringing anyone together," said Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. "It's about one person: Howard Schultz."
In response to a question about whether he's concerned about taking votes away from the Democratic candidate, Schultz began to resemble the president he claimed to have opposed; he repeated messaging that had haunting echoes of the 2016 presidential race: "I want to see the American people win. I want to see America win."