Democrats have ganged up on former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, threatening to make him a “target” and ditch their morning coffee amid fears he can chip away at portions of Democratic with an independent 2020 presidential bid.
Schultz is facing backlash from both establishment Democrats and the wider left-wing camp after he told 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley on Sunday that he was “seriously thinking of running for president as a centrist independent.” Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, has thrown his weight behind many anti-Trump causes – such as hiring 10,000 refugees in response to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban”. But the announcement has ruffled feathers with many in the anti-Trump crowd, who have now turned against him.
Justifying his decision, Schultz said that he believes that the both major parties are “consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people” and have instead become well-versed in “revenge politics.”
He argued that the partial government shutdown that cost the US economy a mind-boggling $11 billion according to one estimate – almost double the cost of Trump’s proposed border wall – is “a reckless failure” of both the GOP and the Democrats.
In what appears to be a swipe directed at Schultz, Democratic mega-donor and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement arguing that an independent candidate would deal a crucial blow to the prospects of Democrats taking over the White House in 2020, effectively helping Trump to extend his time in the office.
“The great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President,” Bloomberg stated, noting that the same concerns forced him to drop an independent bid in the past.
Priorities USA, the largest Democratic Party super PAC, has also come with a stern rebuke against Schultz, vowing to do everything to destroy his campaign if decides to run.
“If Schultz entered the race as an independent, we would consider him a target… We would do everything we can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful,” said its executive director, Patrick McHugh.
The PAC, initially set up to support former president Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, invested heavily in Hillary Clinton in run-up of her 2016 elections debacle.
Taking opposition to Schultz one step further, a host of prominent left-wing activists in the anti-Trump #Resistance crowd proposed to boycott the coffeehouse chain to coerce Shultz, who is still its largest shareholder, into dropping his bid. After stepping down as the CEO of the chain in June last year, Shultz remains the owner of some 33 million shares of Starbucks directly and another 1.7 million shares indirectly.
The boycott call has been championed by the Center for American Progress, a think-tank founded by Clinton confidant John Podesta.
“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,” CAP’s president Neera Tanden tweeted.
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. https://t.co/epUYVrcEg8
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) January 26, 2019
It was echoed by Ian Millhiser, columnist at CAP-run ThinkProgress, tweeting that all major progressive groups will weaponize their email lists to promote a Starbucks boycott.
If Howard Schultz gets into the presidential race, @MoveOn, @IndivisibleTeam, the @DNC, the major unions, and the major presidential campaigns should all use their email lists to promote a Starbucks boycott until he drops out.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) January 27, 2019
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake chimed in, as well several prominent members of the anti-Trump resistance.
There is going to be a Starbucks boycott isn’t there?
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) January 28, 2019
I love our country, and I am seriously AGAINST another bloated ego billionaire running for President.
DON’T DO IT, Howard Schultz.
All you would accomplish is to pull votes away from DEMs and hand the election to trump.
We will boycott the hell out of Starbucks. Don’t try us. https://t.co/a1E85hW2Sz
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) January 28, 2019
The only thing that could get me to really boycott @Starbucks is its largest shareholder and former CEO Howard Schultz actually running for president and siphoning off anti-Trump votes.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 28, 2019
For #BoycottStarbucks, hit ’em where it hurts.
Hey college students! You want another vanity billionaire with no government experience running? You want @HowardSchultz of Starbucks to throw the election to Trump?
Stop him. U of @Penn first. Boycott your on-campus Starbucks.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) January 28, 2019
There were, however, some voices of reason, arguing that proposed boycott would be inefficient to torpedo Schultz’s candidacy and difficult to actually organize. After all, coffee-lovers would have to disrupt their morning routines and ditch Starbucks for it.
2. Also, Starbucks is a part of many people’s routines….people will say they will boycott it but when it comes to their morning coffee or their afternoon coffee drink are they going to go out of the way if a Starbucks is convenient? Absolutely not.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 28, 2019
Shultz appeared to have responded to the outcry on Sunday, stating on Twitter that hence “both parties at the extreme and not representing the silent majority,” there is no better way to give a “better choice” instead of status quo. He said he would be touring the country, meeting with voters in the next few months.
A poll ran by Ipsos and the Daily Beast in June, long before Shultz teased his intention to run, found that celebrities and business moguls are not favored by Americans as their next president. Only 18 percent total said that had a favorable opinion of Shultz, including 19 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans. He scored even less points with Independents, with only 12 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of him at the time.
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