The announcement by Howard Schultz on Sunday that he is "seriously considering" a 2020 run for president was proof enough for some critics that the billionaire, former CEO of Starbucks, and self-described "independent centrist" is definitely not qualified for the position.
In messages on social media and an interview on 60 Minutes, Schultz announced his consideration while also championing a new memoir and launching a three-month book tour to promote it alongside his political ideas. Among those ideological positions is his belief that while it's possible and good to build a global business empire in order to provide people around the world with subjectively "delicious" and "overpriced" coffee it remains impossible, as he argued on 60 Minutes, to improve and expand Medicare so that every single American is covered.
"Every American deserves the right to have access to quality health care. But what the Democrats are proposing is something that is as false as the wall," said Schultz as he compared President Trump's xenophobic border wall to a single-payer system, which polls show 7 in 10 Americans now support, including 84 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. "That is free health care for all," Schultz falsely claimed, "which the country cannot afford."
Contrary to Schultz's assertion, a study released in November showed that a Medicare for All system in the United States could save the country $5.1 trillion over ten years. Progressives did not let the former executives remark go by without comment.
Howard Schultz said “what Democrats are proposing on healthcare is as false as the wall”— John Bisognano (@johnbisognano) January 28, 2019
That, alone, is disqualifying. https://t.co/FuI5Su2Xw6
Americans can't afford Howard Schultz. https://t.co/Xxgi6NF3Lp— #RunBernieRun (@WaywardWinifred) January 28, 2019
Even Larry Sabato, the politically moderate director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, was severly unimpressed. "If Howard Schultz were 'seriously thinking' about an independent run for president," Sabato quipped, "he would have abandoned the idea already. I've had undergrad students with a more compelling platform than Schultz offered tonight."
Agreed. Claim that he’s thinking about this seriously is the first big whopper of the Schultz presidency. https://t.co/I7EUHiQDKr— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 28, 2019
For Democrats, of course, the large concern surrounding an independent run by Schultz—a threat also seen in New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg—is how such a candidate would siphon off votes and give President Donald Trump that much better a shot at re-election.
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Julian Castro, among the current 2020 Democratic candidates and the former housing secretary under President Obama, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" on Sunday that a run by Schultz "would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected."
And Tina Podlodowski, the Democratic Party Chair in Washington state, said in a statement: "I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just. Don't."
Regardless of his intentions, RoseAnn DeMoro, a labor organizer and strong supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), indicated her belief that Schultz poses no serious threat to anyone in 2020.
Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, also said there is nothing to worry about:
I don’t know why anyone is afraid of Howard Schultz running. He’s not addressing some unmet yearning among voters. He’ll waste a bunch of money and it’ll be funny.— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) January 28, 2019
On the other hand: