Starbucks founder and Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz says he won’t be making a run for U.S. president.
“Despite the encouragement of others, I have no intention of entering the presidential fray,” Schultz said in an op-ed for the New York Times published Thursday. “I’m not done serving at Starbucks.”
His statement comes after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported Saturday that his friends had been urging him to mount a bid for the Democratic nomination (and that Vice President Joe Biden also was eyeing a run). Schultz has squashed speculation in the past, saying he lacks the right temperament and has no interest in being an elected official.
Schultz hasn’t hesitated to bring politics into Starbucks stores. Earlier this year, baristas were encouraged to engage customers in discussions about race relations by writing “Race Together” on cups, an initiative that prompted criticism. Schultz started the effort amid protests over the deaths of unarmed black men in police encounters.
Schultz, who returned to the helm of Starbucks in 2008 after a hiatus, says America is in desperate need of a “servant leader.” He says he was floored by the image of Pope Francis kneeling to wash prisoners’ feet shortly after being elected head of the Catholic Church.
The next president, he said, will need to be able to work with both parties in Congress.
“Everyone seeking the presidency professes great love for our nation,” he said. “But I ask myself, how can you be a genuine public servant if you belittle your fellow citizens and freeze out people who hold differing views?”
—With assistance from Arit John in New York.