Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he will not run for president in 2020

Key Points
  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced Friday that he will not run for president after exploring a run earlier this year.
  • "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," he said Friday.
  • Earlier this year, he said that he was "seriously thinking" of running for president "as a centrist independent," prompting worries among Democrats that he could split the vote and help President Donald Trump win.
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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will not run for president

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced Friday that he will not run for president after exploring a run earlier this year.

"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," he said in a letter on Friday morning.

"I will spend this election cycle and the years ahead supporting bold and creative initiatives to transform our broken system and address the disparity of opportunity that plagues our nation," he added.

Earlier this year, he said in an interview that aired on CBS' "60 Minutes," that he was "seriously thinking" of running for president "as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system," prompting worries among Democrats that he could split the vote and help President Donald Trump win a second term. He assembled an elite public relations and communications team, including former John McCain campaign boss Steve Schmidt.

After launching a media blitz to build buzz for a potential run, Schultz shook up his political team in June and took the summer off from political activities to recover from back surgeries. At the time he said he would be "back in touch after Labor Day."

Former Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, speaks during the presentation of his book 'From The Ground Up' on January 28, 2019 in New York City.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

He added in the letter that the money he was prepared to commit to a presidential campaign will instead be used "to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics, and that move the country beyond two-party gridlock."

In late January, Trump taunted the former Starbucks chief saying he "doesn't have the 'guts' to run for President!" Democrats, meanwhile, warned that Schultz joining the race could be a boon for Trump's electoral chances and could siphon off a greater share of Democratic votes than Republican ones.

In June 2018, Schultz stepped down from his role as executive chairman of Starbucks after joining the company in 1982 as director of operations and marketing.

—CNBC's Matthew Belvedere and Brian Schwartz contributed to this article.