In late January, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz stirred up some headlines — and outrage — by announcing that he is considering running for president as a centrist independent, a move that sparked instant backlash from progressives who fear a Schultz run might end up getting Donald Trump re-elected. But since late April, Schultz and his talks of a presidential bid have gone largely quiet.
This week, the former CEO broke his relative silence and issued a letter to his supporters announcing that he was "reluctantly" compelled to take a "detour" from "considering running for president."
The problem, he reveals, stems from a physical issue that began while he was in Arizona a couple of months ago, which has required multiple surgeries and a months-long recovery process. Though he points to his health struggles as the reason he is taking the "detour," and specifies that he will only take the rest of the summer to "rest and rehabilitate," his letter suggests that the 2020 pause might be permanent.
"In the months since I announced that I am considering running for president as a centrist independent, I have been traveling the country, talking with and listening to people in 15 states," Schultz writes in the letter. "I've met with thousands of people, from family farmers in Kansas and veterans in Colorado to college students in Texas and small-business owners in Florida. So many have been exceedingly gracious and forthcoming about their lives — their problems as well as their achievements, their worries as well as their hopes. What I saw and heard provided a beautiful window into the soul of our country."
He then pivots to his reluctant announcement. "While I was in Arizona, I unfortunately experience acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short," he continues. "Over the following two months, I underwent three different back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that."
"I take this detour from the road reluctantly," he stresses. "My concern for our country's future remains, as does the belief that our country deserves so much more from our elected officials. Civility. Honesty. Real problem solving. My belief in these ideals will never waver."
"Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to meet with me, to support me, and to share your stories and ideas," the letter concludes. "We truly are in this together, and I look forward to being back in touch after Labor Day."
Schultz made a splash in late January when he came out guns blazing against both Donald Trump and the Democrats. In an interview with "60 Minutes," he announced that he was thinking seriously about a presidential run as an independent to provide an "alternative" to both Trump and both the Democratic and Republican parties, which he slammed as getting embroiled in "revenge politics."
“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.
But Schultz was quickly met with strong blowback from the Left. In less than 24 hours, Schultz found himself facing hecklers decrying him as an "egotistical billionaire a**hole" who will "re-elect Trump." Starbucks also began hearing troubling rumors about boycott efforts should he choose to run.