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Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, teases 2020 independent bid for president

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has caffeinated talk of a 2020 presidential bid with an upcoming “60 Minutes” interview in which he reportedly broaches the possibility of running as an independent.

Mr. Schultz blasted President Trump as “not qualified” in a clip posted by CBS ahead of Sunday’s show, but the Starbucks mogul said in the unreleased portion of the interview that if he does run, he would do so as an independent, according to the Atlantic.

The report has Democratic operatives worried that such a candidacy could smooth Mr. Trump’s path to reelection by siphoning votes from the Democratic challenger.

Washington state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski urged him to reconsider, saying “Just. Don’t,” while the state party tweeted a photo of a Starbucks cup with the message, “Don’t do it Howard!”

“This worst-case scenario keeps me up at night,” she tweeted Saturday. “I want to spend our resources fighting for Democrats up and down the ballot, not fending off @HowardSchultz’s independent bid.”

The “60 Minutes” interview was pegged to the release of his memoir, but the billionaire has been viewed as a potential presidential contender since he stepped down as Starbucks executive chairman in June.

“We’re living at a most fragile time,” Mr. Schultz said in the video clip. “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.”

With a net worth estimated at more than $ 3 billion, Mr. Schultz would be capable of funding his own campaign without assistance from the major political parties.

Not hurting his bottom line was Friday’s 3.6 percent rise in Starbucks shares, fueled by the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report showing better-than-expected sales and earnings growth.

While a Schultz independent candidacy has alarmed Democrats, prominent third-party candidates have also come back to haunt Republicans.

In 1992, Reform Party presidential candidate Ross Perot captured nearly 19 percent of the vote, a strong showing credited with swinging the race for Democrat Bill Clinton over the Republican incumbent, George H.W. Bush.

In 2000, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took just 2.74 percent of the vote, but was accused of sinking Democrat Al Gore, who lost in a squeaker to Republican George W. Bush.

Mr. Schultz’s book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” is scheduled to hit bookstores Monday.

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