In a sign of how serious Howard Schultz is about, he has hired political strategist Steve Schmidt and Democratic consultant Bill Burton to help shape his forthcoming campaign, according to people familiar with the hires.
Schmidt, a former top Republican strategist, helped run George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and the failed 2008 presidential bid by GOP Arizona Senator John McCain. Burton helped run Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and later served as deputy White House press secretary. In June 2018, Schmidt announced he was leaving the Republican Party, tweeting in June that it had become "fully the party of Trump."
Schmidt has been long rumored as a potential Schultz aide, given that he has spoken out publicly about the potential openings for an independent candidate. Burton, who once considered running for Congress from Buffalo, is based in California and is leaving his role with the Democratic media strategy firm SKDKnickerbocker.
Schultz told CBS News' Scott Pelley in an interview that aired Sunday on "60 Minutes" that he's "seriously thinking of running for president." He also said, "I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system." This sentiment has earned the former Starbucks CEO and lifelong Democrat the, who fear he would take votes from the party's nominee in 2020, helping Donald Trump win a second term.