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Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, exploring independent 2020 bid

Posted at 9:37 AM, Jan 21, 2019

Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, is exploring running for president as an independent candidate, two people familiar with his thinking told CNN.

A person close to Schultz's advisers said they "are exploring a possible independent bid for the presidency in 2020," but the person emphasized that all options remained on the table.

"(Schultz) is thinking deeply about his future and how he can best serve the country," the person said.

Schultz stepped down from his position at Starbucks last year, and he said at the time he may consider a White House bid.

He went on to criticize President Donald Trump, citing both "vitriolic behavior" from the Trump administration and a cut to corporate taxes during an interview with CNBC in June. At the time, he said, "President Trump has given license to the fact that someone who is not a politician could potentially run for the presidency."

In the same interview, Schultz knocked Democrats for proposals he deemed too left-wing, including single-payer health care and guaranteed income. Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said in response that Schultz's remark was "dead wrong."

Schultz is one of many around the country said to be considering a bid to challenge Trump in 2020, and the prospect of an independent candidacy would come as the Democratic field grows ever wider. On Monday, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris announced she would enter the race.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also a billionaire businessman, said previously he was considering a bid as well, but that if he did so, he would run as a Democrat, not believing a candidate outside the two major parties could succeed.

Third party and independent candidates failed to break out in the 2016 election, and no independent candidate has broken into the double digits since businessman Ross Perot's 1992 independent bid garnered nearly 20% of the popular vote.