Self-described centrists are not happy with former CEO Howard Schultz, who said over the weekend that he was seriously considering a bid for president as a “centrist independent, outside of the two-party system.”
Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, said during an interview with CBS‘ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday that he disagreed with both parties and would seek the votes of those who identify as neither Republicans nor Democrats.
But the leading center-left think tank in Washington is already blasting the move.
“If Schultz runs, let it be as a Democrat,” Jim Kessler, co-founder of Third Way and its executive vice president for policy, said in an email.
“The number one danger in the world is not climate change or the national debt but Donald Trump winning a second term,” Kessler said. “An independent run by Howard Schultz runs the risk of allowing an extremely unpopular president to squeak through a crowded field.”
By announcing a potential challenge as an independent, Schultz found a rare spot of bipartisan agreement in American politics. Right, left and center immediately attacked Schultz‘s plan.
Larry Sabato, an elections expert and the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said Schultz‘s interview revealed that “the man knows nothing about politics.”
Schultz‘s comments immediately drew the fury of Democratic 2020 contenders and top strategists, as well as an angry tweet from President Donald Trump.
Julian Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, told CNN that a Schultz run “would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected.” John Delaney, a former U.S. congressman from Maryland also vying for his party‘s nomination, said that if Schultz runs, “Trump wins.”
Some Democrats even took their frustration with Schultz out on the corporation he ran for several years.
Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress and a former Hillary Clinton advisor, threatened to boycott Starbucks “because I‘m not giving a penny that will end up in the election coffers of a guy who will help Trump win.”
For his part, Trump also derided Schultz‘s statement, writing in a tweet that the coffee mogul “”
“Watched him on last night and I agree with him that he is not the ‘smartest person,‘” Trump wrote. “Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!”