Howard Schultz, who as Starbucks CEO helped grow the company into a global chain of coffeeshops, is assembling a team of public relations experts amid speculation that Schultz could run for president in 2020, CNBC said.
Schultz is preparing a publicity campaign for a new book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” which is expected to be published in February. In June, Schultz retired as executive chairman of Starbucks, prompting talk that he could challenge Donald Trump as a Democrat candidate in a 2020 presidential election.
According to CNBC, one person joining Schultz’ team of PR people is Steve Schmidt, a former vice chairman at PR firm Edelman who worked as the senior campaign strategist on Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. Both Schultz and Schmidt have been outspoken critics of President Trump.
Others said by CNBC to be working with Schultz are Cheryl Cook, an Edelman executive vice president, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who previously worked with Schultz at Starbucks.
Shultz joined Starbucks in 1982 and later bought the company in 1987 after expanding the coffeeshop into other cities, then taking the company public in 1992. In 2000, having brought the company to $2.2 billion in annual revenue, Schultz stepped down, but returned as CEO eight years later. In the past ten years, Starbuck’s stock has risen 1,350%, against a 208% gain in the S&P 500 Index during the same period.
Schultz has not announced any formal plans to make a presidential run in 2020 and has downplayed speculation. “For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country, the growing division at home and our standing in the world.” he told The New York Times in June. “One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back.”
When a Times reporter asked Schultz if he was considering running for president, he replied, “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”