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Starbucks’ Howard Schultz has been dogged by rumors about a presidential run for years

In the past year, Schultz’s involvement in political and social causes has escalated after President Trump’s election over Hillary Clinton, which whom Schultz reportedly has a close relationship.

Current and former employees are split over whether Schultz who one person said leads “with heart” — would be a good president, or if he’d fall short of the lofty ideas he espouses.

“I believe strongly in the promise of America,” Schultz, Starbucks’ chairman and former longtime CEO, said at a screening of Starbucks’ “Upstanders” series. “What’s coming out of Washington in many ways — the lack of leadership, the lack of authenticity, lack of civility — is not the narrative or the story of America.”

According to people who have worked with Schultz, the entrepreneur has long fostered a deep interest in politics and a feeling of “responsibility” to effect change in the US. One former employee who worked with Schultz closely for almost a decade told Business Insider she estimated that chances were 50-50 on whether he would run or not.

Starbucks declined to comment on Schultz’s rumored political aspirations. Starbucks’ chairman may never run for president, but for years he’s been refining a progressive political message of a unified America.

Schultz’s connections with politics go deeper than many realize, according to two former employees. In addition to some degree of familiarity with the Bush family and President Jimmy Carter, Schultz apparently has a close relationship with the Clintons, according to one source who spoke with Business Insider.

No one can judge Schultz’s abilities as a leader and potential as a politician better than those who have already been under his leadership — Starbucks employees.

The biggest question — especially from employees who have worked most closely with Schultz — isn’t necessarily if Schultz would be capable. Instead, it’s why he’d want to, in the words of one former Starbucks’ corporate worker, “essentially ruin his life.” A presidential race would mean leaving a cushy gig as Starbucks’ chairman, executing his big ideas for the brand, and instead sacrificing his privacy and control to campaign.



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