clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Howard Schultz, inexplicably, might be headed to Iowa

Schultz says he’ll run as an independent. There’s no Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary for him to compete in.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at a book promotion event in New York City in January 2019.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at a book promotion event in New York City in January 2019.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covered business and economics for Vox and wrote the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is reportedly planning to travel to early caucus and primary states as he figures out whether he wants to run for president.

This would make sense if Schultz were competing for the Democratic or Republican nomination. But since he says he’ll run as a centrist independent, there’s no Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary for him to compete in to begin with.

CNBC reported on Wednesday that Schultz is likely to go to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada on the will-I-or-won’t-I-run-for-president tour he’s recently embarked on. One person with knowledge of Schultz’s plans told the outlet that the early primary states are “certainly part of the conversation,” though dates and locations haven’t been set.

Events in those states are not listed on Schultz’s current schedule for promoting his book, From the Ground Up. But they could be added later on.

Schultz, who said in an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday that he is “seriously thinking of running for president,” has engaged in a bit of a befuddling media blitz in recent days. Though he says he is a “lifelong Democrat,” he plans to run as a self-funded independent. He has been criticizing Democrats a lot more in interviews than he has Republicans.

And despite having a team of big-name consultants, it seems like a lot of what he’s doing isn’t entirely thought out, including these primary state visits. His campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his travel plans.

There is literally no Iowa caucus for Howard Schultz to run in

Schultz isn’t running for the Republican or Democratic nomination for president, so there are no primaries or caucuses for him to participate in.

Sure, it will be nice to meet with voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, but those states aren’t exactly huge factors in the Electoral College Schultz would need to win to win the presidency. Of the group, South Carolina, a historically Republican state, has the most Electoral College votes, with eight.

This isn’t the first head-scratching thing Schultz has done on his pre-presidential bid tour. In an interview with CNBC in June, he said he didn’t want to get into details on whether he would raise taxes on corporations, which in the 2017 tax cut bill were slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent.

“I don’t want to talk in the hypothetical about what I would do if I was president,” he said.

But talking hypothetically about what you would do as president is what you do when you run for president. Voters aren’t supposed to just guess at your potential policy agenda.

Democrats have criticized Schultz over his presidential bid flirtation. Many worry that he might inadvertently help President Donald Trump be reelected (a prospect Trump seems to welcome) and argue that his efforts — and money — might be spent better elsewhere. As Vox’s Kelsey Piper points out, there are a lot of things Schultz, who is worth more than $3 billion, could do besides launch a White House campaign.

But Schultz, at least for now, seems to think the best path for him is to run for president. And he’s inexplicably going through Iowa and New Hampshire to do it.

Correction: This story originally said Schultz’s comments about hypotheticals were made in January. They were made in June.

The news moves fast. Catch up at the end of the day: Subscribe to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast, or sign up for our evening email newsletter, Vox Sentences.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.