In retrospect, perhaps the man who runs a massive retail operation that wipes out independent competition by the boatload isn’t the best-suited candidate to take on the two-party system. Howard Schultz had announced to great fanfare in January that he would explore the idea of an independent run at the presidency, only to disappear from the political scene like a light-roast skinny decaf with soy. Today, however, Schultz has awoken from his prolonged nappuccino to exit the 2020 sweepstakes:
Howard Shultz, the former Starbucks CEO who had been weighing an independent presidential bid, announced Friday that he will not run for president.
“My belief in the need to reform our two-party system has not wavered, but I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time,” Schultz said in statement.
Schultz added that the money he would have allocated to a campaign “will instead be used to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics, and that move the country beyond two-party gridlock.”
Hardest hit: Donald Trump. Schultz had bragged earlier this year that an independent run would soak up so much of Trump’s moderate voting support that the incumbent would be left with only 28% of the vote, tops. Trump, who knew better, responded by attempting the rare immediate jump to the triple-dog-dare:
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
If Schultz had run, he would have pulled most of his votes away from the Democrats. His appeal to Trump skeptics and “moderates” wouldn’t have found much traction with voters who might not like Trump’s antics but support the policies he’s pursuing. Schultz might have lowered Trump’s floor to 42-45%, but in a serious three-way race with a multibillionaire independent, that would probably have been more than enough to win. Just ask Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.
Anyway, one has to wonder what took Schultz so long to make this decision — and why he bothered to make an announcement at all. It’s been months since anyone heard from him, and people stopped asking about him before the summer started. He had earlier promised to make a decision by June, but that deadline came and went without anyone noticing. What’s the point of making this declaration now? Schultz would have been better off pulling a Garbo than making this weak claim that he’s going to fight against two-party gridlock by, er, not putting his own rear end on the line to fight it. Stick to the lattés, pal.