Democrats undoubtedly want to win back the White House in 2020, but do they have a candidate capable of beating President Trump? The answer is very unclear, less than two years until the election.
Former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz may be tossing his name onto an already lengthy list of potential candidates after he hired what CNBC reports to be an “elite public relations team.
CNBC reports Schultz hired a couple people from the notable public relations firm, Edelman:
A key player in Schultz’s growing team is Steve Schmidt, a former vice chairman at public relations powerhouse Edelman who managed Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Schultz is one of the many names widely considered as a possible candidate to take on Trump in two years. In an interview with CNBC earlier this year, Schultz left the door open to a run. With experience mainly in the business world but not the political arena, Schultz would likely need experienced political operators on his side if he were to dive into presidential politics. Schmidt fits that bill.
In his capacity of Chairman and CEO, Shultz worked alongside the Edelman firm as the two shared a business partnership. After Schultz left Starbucks earlier in the year, a spokeswoman said he stayed in touch with Schmidt and the two have worked together on Schultz’s new book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.” The political memoir also signals an interest from Schultz to enter the political arena after a career in business.
“Mr. Schultz has known Mr. Schmidt for a number of years through his work at Edelman,” Schultz’s spokeswoman said, via CNBC. “Mr. Schultz values Steve’s insights and they have stayed in touch.”
Another hire last month, also from the Edelman firm raised some suspicions of a potential run. From the Washington Examiner:
Schultz has also hired Edelman executive vice president Cheryl Cook and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who worked with the CEO when he was at Starbucks.
The former executive has yet to make appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire, which are considered key states to visit on the path to the presidency.
Here’s more, from CNBC:
[Cook] will be representing Schultz up until and throughout his book tour, which is expected to start in February in New York City, these people said. Cook worked at the PR firm for more than a decade and got to know Schultz directly when Starbucks was one of her clients.
Another close advisor recruited by Schultz is Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who worked with the former Starbucks executive throughout his tenure at the company, according to a person familiar with the relationship. He joined Starbucks in 2015 to help the company work on social issues, and he followed Schultz out of Starbucks after serving as a senior vice president. He also co-authored the book “For the Love of Country” with Schultz. Prior to his stint at Starbucks, Chandrasekaran was a senior correspondent at The Washington Post.
People close to Schultz describe Chandrasekaran as one of his closest confidants and say he’s positioned to be a pivotal voice when the coffee executive decides whether he will run for office.
Schultz would join the like of former Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders, and Democrat senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. More than 30 names are currently in contention for the nomination.