Howard Schultz has heard the wailing and is unmoved. In a USA Today op-ed, the former Starbucks CEO made the case for a third-party independent candidate ... "like me." Though Schultz hasn't formally thrown his hat in the ring, his announcement on Sunday that he was considering doing so led to much hand-wringing among Democrats, who predict his candidacy would split the anti-incumbent vote and hand President Trump a second term. "To suggest that either party’s candidate could lose because of a third choice is intellectually dishonest. I am considering a run because members of both parties are not yet doing the job they were elected to do," he writes. More from his piece and the news around Schultz:
- Schultz makes a pledge: "That I will not seek the presidency unless I believe it is possible to win, and for me to govern well." He says he'll spend the next few months traveling around America, talking to people and gauging whether "the idea of a third choice will resonate"—and he believes it will, citing polls to that end.
- The now-billionaire (he's worth an estimated $3 billion) asks that Americans get to know him, and shares some details from his childhood. Among them: "My father was a working-class guy who got fired from his job delivering diapers after an accident. He had no health insurance and our family had no savings. His body healed, but his spirit remained shattered. I’ve never forgotten that." Read the full piece here.
- The op-ed is unlikely to assuage Priorities USA, which the AP describes as "the most powerful super PAC in Democratic politics." It threw almost $200 million into the 2016 election, and its executive director says that "if Schultz entered the race ... we would do everything we can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful." He flagged Schultz's apparent openness to the idea of cutting things like Medicare and Social Security to trim down the federal deficit. "The bottom line is that I don't think Americans are looking for another selfish billionaire to enter the race."
- That's basically what a heckler said Monday night during Schultz's kickoff event for his national book tour. While at a Barnes and Noble in New York City, a heckler shouted, "Don't help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire a------. Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter." NBC News explains that's a reference to tweets that get more comments than retweets and likes, indicating opposition to the statement. Schultz's response: "I'm not running a primary race on Twitter."
- Another book tour-related stop: Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop podcast. Slate has a fairly merciless take on their hourlong conversation in a piece whose title notes Schultz's appearance on the podcast "Should Tank His Presidential Candidacy." Writes Christina Cauterucci, "It’s funny to listen to Schultz try to explain political things, because it’s clear he lacks the basic savvy that was once expected of presidential candidates." She provides examples here.
- Axios observes that this is a big wrinkle for Starbucks. Its current CEO emailed all 350,000 employees Monday morning to say "as a company, we don’t get involved in national political campaigns. And nothing changes for Starbucks." That's wishful thinking. "If the company is publicly attacked, it will have little choice but to defend itself." It knows that, and Axios writes Starbucks is doing its homework and looking at past business-bigwig candidates; think "Mitt Romney and Bain Capital in 2012."
- On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert took issue with the logo found on Schultz's website, which is his name with a handwritten "Howard" signed over it. "Is he running for president or launching a daytime talk show?" asked Colbert. "Also, it's clear Howard Schultz hasn't been to a Starbucks lately, or else that handwriting would read 'Horsefurt Shlutz.'"
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