2020 Election: Steve Schmidt Joins Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s Team

howard schultz steve schmidt

Getty Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Steve Schmidt.

John McCain’s former campaign manager Steve Schmidt has joined an “elite” public relations team put together by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ahead of a possible 2020 presidential run.

Schultz, who also served as the chairman of the coffee giant until he stepped down last year, is putting together a number of powerhouse strategists ahead of a book release and potential presidential bid, CNBC reported.

Schmidt ran McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and is a longtime Republican strategist who publicly left the party over his opposition to President Donald Trump earlier this year. Along with his work as an anti-Trump cable news pundit, Schmidt is the former vice chairman of the public relations giant Edelman.

Schultz’s name has been floated repeatedly among potential Democratic candidates who are not in the political arena. CNBC reported that Schultz “left the door open to a run” in an interview earlier this year.

According to the network, Schultz built a relationship with Schmidt while Edelman represented Starbucks and the two continued to keep in touch since both left their respective companies. Schmidt has done some private consulting work for Schultz ahead of his book release.

Schultz also hired former Edelman executive Cheryl Cook ahead of the book tour, which is scheduled to kick off in February.

The title and theme of Schultz’s book definitely signal a potential presidential bid. “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America” is billed as a “part dramatic memoir, part blueprint of the new responsibilities that leaders and citizens share in America today.”

Schultz also recruited former Starbucks executive Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who previously worked as a senior correspondent for The Washington Post.

Thomas Rath, a Republican strategist who helped build Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich’s team in New Hampshire ahead of his 2016 presidential bid, told CNBC that Schmidt’s experience would be invaluable to a candidate with no political experience.

“I certainly believe in the abstract people coming from the business into politics, particularly a run for president, they need someone around them. They need to have people familiar to them to help them,” he said. “Others like Schmidt would be invaluable. Steve has seen so much. He would have a sense as to what the calendar means. He would know how to hunt delegates and a keen sense as to how best to raising money.”

Schultz had been vocal in his concern that the Democratic Party is moving too far left.

“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left,” Schultz told CNBC in June. “I say to myself, ‘How are we going to pay for these things,’ in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don’t think that’s realistic.”

While he may have presidential aspirations, Schultz has yet to travel to early caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, while others building a 2020 run have already made repeated trips to the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary states. He has also yet to meet with Democratic Party officials to discuss a potential bid.

A poll released by Greenberg Research in July found that Schultz would be a longshot, but is already in slightly better shape than billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

CANDIDATE VOTE%
Joe Biden 30
Bernie Sanders 28
Elizabeth Warren 13
Cory Booker 8
Kamala Harris 5
Howard Schultz 2
Tom Steyer 1
Mitch Landrieu 1
Someone Else/A Governor 4

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