Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz lacks ‘guts’ to be president, Trump says

President has yet to mention Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign kickoff

Executive Chairman of Starbucks Corporation Howard Schultz is exploring a 2020 presidential bid. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Executive Chairman of Starbucks Corporation Howard Schultz is exploring a 2020 presidential bid. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:41am

President Donald Trump sharply criticized Howard Schultz over the coffee mogul’s exploration of an independent 2020 presidential bid by challenging his intelligence.

The former Starbucks CEO, in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening, said even though he has been a “lifelong Democrat,” he is mulling a White House run as what he described as a “centrist independent.” (He did not explain just where that somewhat amorphous description lands on the modern-day political spectrum, however.)

“We’re living at a most fragile time,” Schultz told CBS News in the interview. “Not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged every single day in revenge politics.”

[White House pours cold water on House Dems’ emerging border package]

The coffee executive made several such remarks about the sitting president during the interview, and that clearly got Trump’s attention.

In a Monday morning tweet, the president contended that Schultz “doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President!”

“60 Minutes” interviewer Scott Pelley asked Schultz this: “Many people are going to ask what does the coffee entrepreneur know about being commander-in-chief?”

“I have a long history of recognizing I’m not the smartest person in the room, that in order to make great decisions about complex problems, I have to recruit and attract people who are smarter than me and more experienced, more skilled, and we’ve got to create an understanding that we need a creative debate in the room to make these kind of decisions,” Schultz replied.

That amounts to not protecting one’s head in a metaphorical political boxing match with the ever-counterpunching Trump.

“Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the ‘smartest person,’” the president wrote. “Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!” (Trump never completely severed direct ties with his businesses, to the chagrin of Democrats and government ethics experts.)

Notably, Trump — at the time of this writing — had not weighed in on California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris and the large crowd that attended her presidential campaign kick-off Sunday in Oakland.

During her remarks in announcing her bid, Harris took several not-so-veiled shots at the White House’s current occupant and his brash, personal style of politics.

[Threats over shutdown, emergency declaration hang over coming talks]

“We are here because the American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before,’’ Harris said Sunday. “And we are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question: ‘Who are we? Who are we as Americans?’ So, let’s answer that question to the world and each other, right here and right now: ‘America, we are better than this.’”

One Fox News personality who often applauds the Trump presidency, however, took to Twitter Monday morning to label Harris the “most viable prez candidate mentioned by the Dems since election of @realDonaldTrump,” adding: “she is hip, smart & wouldn’t wilt when @POTUS opens fire.”

A poll conducted last week put Harris third among the expected 2020 Democratic field, trailing former Democratic Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Watch: ‘No one should ever underestimate the speaker’: Democrats claim victory after shutdown agreement

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Correction Wednesday, 1:38 a.m. | An earlier version of this story should have stated that Howard Schultz is the former CEO of Starbucks.