Donald Trump; Howard Schultz (Getty/Salon)

President Donald Trump slams Howard Schultz's Oval Office ambitions: "He is not the smartest person"

Trump rips Schultz one day after the former Starbucks CEO said he might run for president in 2020 as an independent


Shira Tarlo
January 28, 2019 3:33PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump on Monday slammed Howard Schultz – one day after the former Starbucks CEO announced he is considering mounting a bid for president in 2020 as a "centrist independent."

"Howard Schultz doesn’t have the 'guts' to run for President!" Trump tweeted. "Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the 'smartest person.'"

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"Besides, America already has that!" he added. "I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!"

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

"We're living at a most fragile time – not only the fact that this President is not qualified to be the president but the fact 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," he added.

Schultz, who describes himself as a "lifelong Democrat," cited the mounting national debt as a "reckless example not only of Republicans, but Democrats as well, as a reckless failure of their constitutional responsibility."

"I am not, in any way, in bed with a party," Schultz said.

Schultz stepped down as chairman and CEO of Starbucks last year, and said at the time that he was exploring what he could do to best serve America. Hours before the "60 Minutes" interview aired, Schultz sent his first message on Twitter, where he has had an account since September 2012.

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"It feels good to be here. My hope is to share my truth, listen to yours, build trust, and focus on things that can make us better," he wrote on the social media site.

If Schultz enters the 2020 race, he will join what is expected to be a very crowded list of candidates that already includes California Sen. Kamala Harris, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. In addition, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have noted their Oval Office ambitions. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who fell short in his campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race during the 2018 midterm election cycle, have also hinted that they are weighing a White House bids — and these names are far from the complete list.

Several Democrats have expressed concern over Schultz's potential third-party presidential campaign, including Castro on Sunday morning.

Castro told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" he is concerned that a Schultz candidacy would "provide Donald Trump with the best hope of getting re-elected" because the former Starbucks CEO could siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee. Castro said he does not think "that would be in the best interest of our country."

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"I would suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that that might make," he added.

Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, had far more blunt words for Schultz, tweeting "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," she added.

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Additionally, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire financier and former Republican New York mayor who himself is considering running for president in 2020 as a Democrat, said that any third-party candidate would "split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President" in 2020.

"Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an independent can win," Bloomberg tweeted on Monday. "That is truer today than ever before."


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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