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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz scaling back presidential ambitions — for now

Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO who has been toying with a potential independent presidential campaign, is significantly scaling back his political operations amid recent back surgery and the frontrunner status of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic race.

Two senior aides to Schultz confirmed he told staffers Wednesday that he is scaling back his team as he continues recovering from three recent back surgeries. He will continue working with former Republican operative Steve Schmidt and former Democratic operative Bill Burton and other aides and is expected to keep close tabs on the Democratic presidential race and how upcoming debates could reshape the field, according to two people familiar with his plans.

"He is realigning his team as he considers the next phase of his exploration," said one of the people, granted anonymity to speak frankly about Schultz's thinking.

The other person said Schultz "needs to see how this thing shakes out" before jumping in to a more serious campaign.

No serious consideration of any change in his plans will occur before the end of the summer, the person added.

In a "Summer Update" emailed to supporters on Wednesday, Schultz said that during a visit to Arizona this spring, "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," Schultz added. "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."

Democrats fear Howard Schultz presidential run would help Trump win

Schultz's admitted interest in the White House in late January when he told "60 Minutes" he would be exploring a potential independent campaign.

"I am not ... in bed with a party," he told CBS News' Scott Pelley in an interview, adding that if he ran, he would do so as a "centrist independent."

In the months since, he traveled to 15 states meeting with various groups and repeatedly admonishing Democrats for veering too far to the political left and Republicans for continuing to embrace President Trump.

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