Or would that be the Venti guts? After Howard Schultz told 60 Minutes that he’s considering an independent run for president in 2020, Donald Trump insinuated on Twitter that Schultz’s ambition had as much power as a tall skinny decaf mochaccino with soy.
The only thing missing from this tweet is the triple-dog-dare taunt:
Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
Gotta love the “make me a sammich” twist at the end there, too. This is classic Trump, acting like the outer-borough brawler that he is and making everything personal. From Trump’s perspective, that kind of taunt would be akin to the triple-dog-dare: the target has to either meet or up the ante, or withdraw and suffer the damage to his perceived intestinal fortitude. Either put up or shut up, Howard!
Of course, just because Trump’s good at playing this game doesn’t mean everyone plays it. Schultz undoubtedly has a very different perspective on credibility, and the people whom he’d want to win to his side aren’t fans of Trump’s tactics anyway. For those, juvenile tactics like this are why people are looking for alternatives in 2020.
That might work to Trump’s benefit anyway. Politico’s Katie Galioto notes the history of independent bids on presidential electoral history:
In recent decades, candidates running independent campaigns for president have caused a stir, but never come close to winning. Billionaire Ross Perot placed third in 1992 with 19 percent of the vote, enough that many have credited him with drawing support away from then-incumbent President George H.W. Bush, allowing President Bill Clinton to unseat him.
In 2000, Consumer advocate Ralph Nader ran as the Green Party’s presidential candidate, pulling enough votes from Democrat Al Gore to help President George W. Bush secure the presidency in that year’s razor-thin election.
Looking ahead to 2020, the prospects are not looking all that cheery for Trump. Democrats staged a huge comeback in the midterms in the “blue wall” states that handed him the presidency in 2016. Hillary Clinton’s hinting at a rematch, but this time the DNC won’t clear the field for her, which will produce a nominee that understands better how to campaign. Trump’s job approval is sinking again during the shutdown; his RCP average is now 41/55, but even his recent best back in June was 43/51. Even Rasmussen has him at 45/54 right now. These are not re-elect numbers against any challenger with a decent level of campaign competence.
However, if Trump can goad a fellow billionaire into doing a Ross Perot, Trump’s odds improve — at least a little. Schultz, Tom Steyer, or Michael Bloomberg would attract mostly left-leaning voters, plus their organization would rely heavily on grassroots activists that might otherwise support Democrats. Steyer would get the climate-change groups; Bloomberg the anti-Second Amendment activists; Schultz would appeal to health-care reform activists, as well as high-tax advocates. Those are all key constituencies in the ever-more-progressive Democratic Party.
That drain could pull enough voters to make a difference in close-run states. That’s arguably what happened in Florida in 2000; it’s almost certainly what happened with Perot and the Right in 1992. If Schultz gets 10% of the vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin, Trump’s well on his way to winning those states and a second term. It could cut the other way too, as Allahpundit noted, but it’s not likely to do so unless Democrats nominate a safe moderate to hold the suburban voters who went back to their party in the midterms. Republicans have the Supreme Court as the argument, and President Kamala Harris’ choices for the judiciary is enough to hold GOP voters from swinging to Schultz.
And that’s why Trump’s challenging Schultz’ manhood on Twitter today. He wants Schultz to step into the trap that Bloomberg avoided three years ago. Trump might even need Schultz in 2020. What better way, from Trump’s perspective anyway, to get Schultz to jump into the race than calling him gutless? That’s the point of the triple dog dare, after all, and it’s effective … if you have never watched A Christmas Story.