The newest entry into the 2020 presidential brawl isn’t a Democrat, but an independent candidate: billionaire and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
“I am seriously thinking of running for president,” Schultz told Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” on CBS. “I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party 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.”
Schultz’s interview has already stirred the pot on both sides of the aisle.
President Trump posted on Twitter that Schultz doesn’t have the guts to run.
Meanwhile, Neera Tanden, president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said Schultz’s run would all but assure that Trump would get a second term in office.
Schultz isn’t the first person to try a big, bold independent run.
Billionaire Ross Perot famously ran two independent presidential campaigns during the 1992 and 1996 elections. In 1992, while not winning a single state, he got more than 19 million votes, nearly 19 percent. In 1996, Perot’s numbers were modest at best while running as the Reform Party candidate. He only got over 8 million votes or just over 8 percent.
Perot ran as a populist, campaigning against a broken political system. In the end, Democratic nominee Bill Clinton won both elections without a majority of the vote.
Some argue Perot tipped the scales in Clinton’s favor, but in 2000, the “spoiler effect” would work the other way. In that particular election, Al Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes, but lost in the electoral college, 271 to 266. Famously, George W. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes. Notably, more than 97,000 Floridians voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and 17,000 for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. Democrats blamed Nader for Bush’s win.
Schultz, presuming he runs as an independent, could resonate with disenchanted Perot-type independent voters who went for Barack Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016. But there’s also a chance he nabs centrist Democrats should a socialist nab the Democratic nomination. There’s really no way to gauge how much of an impact Schultz will have, and that’s one reason political operatives are freaking out.