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Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz mulling 'centrist independent' presidential bid; Democrats balk

Self-described centrist slams extremism in both parties ahead of book tour

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Lifelong Democrat and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced he is mulling a run for president in 2020 as a "centrist independent," ahead of his book tour which begins Monday.

But his prospective candidacy has been met with resistance from the left, with many Democrats saying such a bid would ensure a second term for President Donald Trump.

What are the details?

In an interview that aired on "60 Minutes" Sunday, Schultz told CBS' Scott Pelley, "I am seriously thinking of running for president. I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system."

He said 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 went on to admit that while he has been a Democrat his entire life, he pointed to the ballooning national deficit as one reason he believes an Independent candidate is needed.

"I look at both parties — we see extremes on both sides, well, we are sitting, today, with approximately $21.5 trillion of debt, which is a reckless example, not only of Republicans, but of Democrats as well, as a reckless failure of their constitutional responsibility," he added.

Schultz told The New York Times that he won't make his final decision to run until after his three-month book tour is over. But if Twitter is any gauge, he could be facing a tough road ahead.

The former CEO sent out his first tweets on Sunday, dipping his toe in the water by announcing his run and displaying a background photo plugging his book, "From the Ground Up: A journey to reimagine the promise of America."

Each post was met with a bevy of comments begging Schultz not to run, with several saying his candidacy would split the anti-Trump vote.

How did Democrats respond?

NBC News reported that "Democrats were out in full force on Sunday blasting the idea of an independent presidential bid" by Schultz.

An aide to possible Democrat contender Michael Bloomberg tweeted, "I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote. The stakes couldn't be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump's re-election."

Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Washington said last week, "I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just don't."

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden also weighed in on Schultz's potential bid and added a threat, saying, "Vanity projects that help destroy democracy are disgusting. 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."

Anything else?

In his "60 Minutes" interview, Schultz also said President Trump "is not qualified to be the president."

The president reacted on Twitter Monday morning, mocking Schultz by saying he "doesn't have the 'guts' to run."

One last thing…
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