Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced Friday that he is no longer considering an independent 2020 presidential run. He said he was doing so to give a moderate Democrat a better shot at the presidency and called President Donald Trump "uniquely dangerous."
Was he running?
Schultz had publicly toyed with the idea of running as an independent candidate in this election cycle. Although his candidacy was not officially announced, his considerable net worth of $4.6 billion gave him the potential to be a serious contender. He had already suspended his exploratory committee in June, but had not formally abandoned his White House plans until now. According to Axios, Schultz plans to spend $100 million on the 2020 election.
What did he say?
In an open letter posted on his personal website, Schultz wrote that he had considered running because he was "[d]one watching our two parties fail" and he "saw a path in the unprecedented frustration of today's electorate."
However, he wrote, he eventually decided to end his candidacy when he came to realize "a few truths about this moment in time."
Schultz argued that "despite their hunger for reform, the exhausted majority has largely tuned out of political life online and in the news, leaving the extreme voices to define the debate."
He also argued that voters would be unwilling to vote for any independent candidate "because they fear doing so might lead to re-electing a uniquely dangerous incumbent president." Schultz said that there was "a risk that my name would appear on ballots even if a moderate Democrat wins the nomination, and that is not a risk I am willing to take." He said that Trump's re-election would "pose a graver threat to our democracy than four more years of political dysfunction."
This point was something former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had used to try to talk Schultz out of running back in January. Bloomberg had warned that "the data was very clear" that "there is no way an independent can win."
However, Schultz also expressed his concern about "the far-left policy ideas being advanced by several Democratic candidates that will further alienate voters who believe those ideas will inflict more economic harm than good."
A March poll taken by Emerson Polling showed Schultz netting 4 percent in a matchup with Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden (who while not a centrist tends to be less rabidly liberal than the other leading primary candidates). That was only half the distance between Trump's total in that poll (44 percent) and Biden's (52 percent).
Schultz also said that "a back injury in April and three subsequent surgeries" were a factor in making him decide to end his campaign.