Billionaire Howard Schultz, the former chief executive officer of Starbucks, announced that he is considering launching an independent presidential bid over the weekend.
“I love our country, and I am seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent,” Schultz tweeted Sunday.
Schultz appeared on “60 Minutes” later on Sunday.
"I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system,” he said. “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."
Schultz, who said he is a “lifelong Democrat,” said a key disagreement between him and the party is that he doesn’t believe the United States can afford Medicare for All, even though every other industrialized country has universal healthcare.
"I look at both parties. We see extremes on both sides. Well, we are sitting today with approximately $21.5 trillion of debt, which is a reckless example, not only of Republicans, but of Democrats, as well, as a reckless failure of their constitutional responsibility," he said.
Schultz, who stepped back from his role at Starbucks in 2016, remains a major shareholder in the brand. He vowed to release his tax returns and separate himself from the company if he does run.
Schultz is estimated to be worth around $3.3 billion.
Democrats warn Schultz third-party bid would re-elect Trump:
Having seen Jill Stein, Ralph Nader, and Ross Perot siphon off key votes in past presidential elections, Democrats warned that a Schultz ticket could split the anti-Trump vote and help the president get re-elected.
"I have a concern that if he did run, that, essentially, it would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected,” said former Obama HUD Secretary and 2020 contender Julian Castro in an appearance on CNN.
"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," wrote Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress.
But California Rep. Eric Swalwell, another 2020 contender, said that he “could care less” about Schultz’s bid.
"If we do this right, our Democratic ideas and nominee will unite most Americans and replace @realDonaldTrump," he tweeted. "Let’s focus on doing that."
Trump goads Schultz to get in the race:
“Howard Schultz doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the ‘smartest person,’” Trump tweeted Monday. “Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!”