The former CEO of Starbucks's announcement that he might run as a "centrist independent" in a tweet on Sunday drew immediate criticism on Twitter and elsewhere. Several Democratic leaders pointed out that a Schultz campaign could help re-elect President Donald Trump by siphoning votes away from the Democratic candidate. The announcement came one day before Schultz embarks on a nationwide tour for his new book, From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.
At least one Democratic leader criticized Schultz's potential political aspirations even before Schultz made his announcement. "I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent," Tina Podlodowski, chair of the state Democratic Party of Washington, said in a statement last week. "Just don't."
Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline tweeted, "Howard, I like your coffee, but please don't do this. You're not going to win." He added: "You're just going to make it easier for @realDonaldTrump to win."
Schultz will make an official decision after his three-month book tour, he told The New York Times. He added that his decision to run as an independent candidate stems from his disagreements with several policy proposals from Democrats.
"When I hear people espousing free government-paid college, free government-paid health care, and a free government job for everyone -- on top of a $21 trillion debt -- the question is, how are we paying for all this and not bankrupting the country?" he told the Times.
Schultz rose to fame after transforming Starbucks from a seven-store coffee chain in Seattle in the 1980s into a world-renowned coffee empire. During his tenure as a CEO and chairman, Schultz introduced full health care coverage for full-time and part-time employees, as well as stock options and free college tuition programs. Rumors of the billionaire's candidacy started swirling last year after he stepped down from his chairman role at Starbucks. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is also rumored to be mulling over a potential bid.
For Nick Hanauer, a Seattle-based venture capitalist who was an early Amazon investor, being a successful business leader does not necessarily mean you are fit to lead a country.
"When people (many of my peers) say 'We need to run the country like a business' it makes me want to throw up," he wrote on Twitter on Monday. "The country is not a business. Saying we should run the country like a business is like saying we should fly the airplane like a unicycle. You will crash."