US & Canada

Howard Schultz: Ex-Starbucks CEO considers presidential run

Schultz in front of Starbucks logo onstage in 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Schultz has hit out at "revenge politics" from Republicans and Democrats

The former CEO of coffee chain Starbucks has said he is "seriously considering" running for president.

Howard Schultz, who stepped down as the firm's boss last year, says he is considering running as a centrist independent candidate in 2020.

In a series of tweets, he said the current two political parties in the US were "more divided than ever".

"Let's discuss how we can come together to create opportunities for more people," he posted.

During an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes programme, Mr Schultz said he had been a "lifelong Democrat" but criticised the current two-party dominated system.

"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," he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro is among those who have criticised the move.

He told CNN that Mr Schultz's potential run could give President Trump the "best hope of getting re-elected" by splitting the opposition vote.

"I would suggest to Mr Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that might make," he said.

Mr Schultz rebuffed that criticism during his CBS interview, saying he wanted to see "the American people win".

"I don't care if you're a Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Republican. Bring me your ideas and I will be an independent person, who will embrace those ideas. Because I am not, in any way, in bed with a party," he said.

President Donald Trump responded to Mr Schultz's comments in a Monday morning tweet.

Mr Schultz, a former espresso machine salesman, grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, New York.

He started working for the original Seattle Starbucks chain back in 1982 when it only had 11 outlets selling coffee beans.

He acquired the company in 1987 and by the time he stepped down in 2018, it had grown to 28,000 cafe in 77 countries around the world.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Schultz remains in the position of chairman emeritus

The 65-year-old frequently used his position to speak out on social issues like immigration and gun control.

He now has an estimated fortune of about $3bn (£2.3bn) and is a regular donor to Democratic campaigns, including that of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

His departure as CEO of Starbucks last year sparked rumour of his political ambitions.

Mr Schultz's comments on Sunday prompted coffee-themed criticism by some on social media.

The Washington State Democrats posted a photograph, without comment, of a Starbucks cup with: "Don't do it Howard" written on.

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