Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has announced that he will not seek the presidency after months of consideration.
“My belief in the need to reform our two-party system has not wavered, but I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time,” Schultz wrote in a letter posted to his website on Friday. The letter will be sent to thousands of supporters later in the day, Axios reported.
Schultz, a self-described “lifelong Democrat,” had discussed a potential run as an independent in January, suggesting that he was driven by the “reckless failure” of constitutional responsibility among both Democrats and Republicans.
“The American people are exhausted. Their trust has been broken and they are looking for a better choice,” he said in a CBS interview that month.
In a video later posted to Twitter, Schultz said he would be traveling around the country in the following weeks to speak with members of the public about his political aspirations.
He ended up cutting his travels short, however, after experiencing acute back pain that led to three back surgeries, he said in an email to his supporters in mid-June.
“I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate,” he said at the time. “I have decided to take the summer to do just that.”
In his letter Friday, Schultz cited his lengthy recovery from the injury as a reason why he couldn’t engage with people at the level necessary to run for president.
In the end, he didn’t have to go far to get feedback about his political aspirations. The news in January that Schultz was considering a presidential run as an independent ignited a wave of Democratic concern that such a bid could help President Donald Trump get reelected.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also considered a 2020 run, quickly spoke out against the idea of a third-party candidate, arguing that person “would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President.”
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, who served as secretary of housing and urban development under President Barack Obama, offered the same warning, telling CNN that an independent run by Schultz “would provide Trump with his best hope for getting reelected.”
Former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod voiced similar concerns on Twitter, calling Schultz’s idea “the only good news” Trump received that week.
Schultz seemed to have considered that criticism in his letter exiting the race, saying not enough people will consider backing an independent candidate out of fear that it will help Trump be reelected.
Trump appeared to try to goad Schultz into running, tweeting that the businessman “doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to be president.”
Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in June 2018 and was immediately asked by reporters about any White House ambitions, which he then declined to rule out.
“I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service,” he told The New York Times at the time. “But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”
Schultz said Friday the money he had raised for the campaign will be used to “invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics.”