Schultz on Backlash to Possible Presidential Run: “I Must Be Doing Something Right”

That’s one way to respond to charges of launching a vanity project campaign.

The announcement this week from Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, that he was considering an independent run for president in 2020 has prompted a fiercely negative response, with Democrats and even fellow billionaires warning that an independent campaign could split the party and effectively hand the next election to Donald Trump.

Others have decried the idea of a billionaire, one who has already dismissed several key progressive platforms such as Medicare-for-all and higher taxes on the super-wealthy, running to capture the liberal vote. “Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire asshole!” a protester shouted at Schultz during an event to promote his new memoir. “Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter!”

When asked about the intense backlash to his announcement on Wednesday, Schultz gave a response that’s unlikely to diminish criticism that his flirtation with a presidential run is nothing more than a vanity project.

“I must be doing something right to create so much interest and backlash from the Democratic Party,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Some of it is a surprise. We expected to see some of the level of vitriol, but not the extent it’s been.”

Schultz also continued his recent criticism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the presidential candidate who has led the push for higher taxes on the wealthy. Schultz claimed that he once declined the senator’s request for a campaign donation. “I don’t believe what Elizabeth Warren stands for,” he said. “I don’t believe the country should be heading to socialism.”

Schultz’s remarks on Wednesday, in which he appeared hellbent on painting prominent Democrats as radicals, came as he has promised to unite voters. Schultz said, “I don’t affiliate myself with a Democratic Party who’s so far left, who basically wants the government to take over health care, which we cannot afford, the government to give free college to everybody, and the government to give everyone a job.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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