Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz told campaign staff that he is making significant cuts to his team, as he suspends his political plans for the summer.
Schultz came into the office Wednesday for the first time in months and met with the staff, according to a person in the room. He announced that he was letting everyone go except those in senior leadership positions, adding he would not make a decision about running for president until after Labor Day.
Shortly thereafter, Schultz sent an email to supporters, saying that medical reasons had taken him out of commission for months, and he still needed time to recover.
“While I was in Arizona, I unfortunately experienced acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short,” he wrote. “Over the following two months, I underwent three separate back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that.”
Early this year, Schultz announced that he was considering running for president as a centrist independent. He had traveled around the country doing public appearances and promoting his memoir ― while facing significant criticism from some Democrats who say that his run could help President Donald Trump win a second term.
Schultz told his staff Wednesday that he was closely watching former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner on the Democratic side who is more moderate and centrist than many of the other candidates. Schultz said that if Biden does not appear to be the nominee, he would think about jumping into the presidential race after Super Tuesday.
“He is realigning a team for the next phase of his exploration,” a Schultz aide said in response to a request for comment.
Full message sent to supporters:
In the months since I announced that I am considering running for president as a centrist independent, I have been traveling the country, talking with and listening to people in 15 states. I’ve met with thousands of people, from family farmers in Kansas and veterans in Colorado to college students in Texas and small-business owners in Florida. So many have been exceedingly gracious and forthcoming about their lives—their problems as well as their achievements, their worries as well as their hopes. What I saw and heard provided a beautiful window into the strong soul of our country.
While I was in Arizona, I unfortunately experienced acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short. Over the following two months, I underwent three separate back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that.
I take this detour from the road reluctantly. My concern for our country’s future remains, as does my belief that the American people deserve so much more from our elected officials. Civility. Honesty. Real problem solving. My belief in these ideals will never waver.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to meet with me, to support me, and to share your stories and ideas. We truly are in this together, and I look forward to being back in touch after Labor Day.
With respect and gratitude,