Is Howard Schultz having second thoughts about running for president?

Fox Business is reporting that potential independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz has told advisors that he was shocked by the near hysterical backlash from Democrats to the news that he may run in 2020 and that he was having second thoughts about entering the race.

Wishful thinking on the part of Democrats or anti-Trump Republicans? No advisors to Schultz are quoted directly in the story. Fox Business "learned" that Schultz told advisors of his second thoughts, which could mean they never even had direct contact with Schultz's top advisors.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't be surprising.

The reason for the rapid, and at times, nasty Democratic response is less about what Schultz stands for, and more about how he might impact the 2020 election: If he runs for president as an independent, Schultz is expected to draw votes from the Democratic nominee because of his progressive social positions, thus aiding Republican President Donald Trump’s re-election effort when the president suffers from chronically abysmal approval ratings.

Among Schultz’s most prominent critics has been fellow billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike BloombergOpens a New Window., himself a possible 2020 Democratic contender. Bloomberg, who also once considered an independent presidential bid, issued a statement that said if Schultz goes that route it will “just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the president.”

The intense nature of the criticism stunned Schultz, people close to him tell FOX Business. While he expected some carping, he did not foresee the ferocity of some of the vitriol, particularly from the party’s top officials and operatives. In addition to the barrage of criticism from leading Democrats, Schultz was also blindsided by the grass roots blowback, including being heckled during an event in New York City to promote his new book.

One person with knowledge of Schultz’s reaction to the attacks said he is “freaking out” about the criticism; another person described Schultz as being “surprised” by the severity of the Democratic Party backlash.

So which is it? "Freaking out" or "surprised"? More reason to doubt the story.

Schultz hasn't committed to a run, saying he is still exploring his options. And he has made it known he won't run unless he sees a path to victory. 

But a senior advisor to Schultz told FOX Business on Thursday that Schultz’s decision is far from final—and he won’t make up his mind until at least the summer. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Schultz is weighing several factors including how people outside the “Washington to New York Amtrak corridor” react to his ideas during events as he sells his new book, "From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of AmericaOpens a New Window.." Schultz’s memoir describes his working-class upbringing, business career, and the philosophy that underpins his beef with the political extremes he believes control both parties to the detriment of the country and may prod him to run for president.

The advisor added that Schultz has studied one of the barriers to entry for any independent candidate: The laborious process of getting on all the state ballots and he said Schultz believes that won’t present a significant obstacle. The bigger issues for Schultz is whether his message will resonate and whether he will win.

“What Howard needs to figure out still is whether there’s a need for him to be in the political process,” the advisor said. “Then he needs to figure out if he can win.”

If true, this means Schultz is still several steps away from making a decision to run. But his candidacy is such a threat that Democrats feel it necessary to shame him into staying on the sidelines.

It could be that once he gets to the point that he tries to determine whether he can win the presidency running as an independent that he will conclude he can't make it and refuse to run. Indeed, the best he could probably hope for is to win a few states and throw the race into the House of Representatives. There, with the two sides hopelessly deadlocked, political leaders would turn to him.

More a fantasy than a realistic scenario, to be sure. But running for president is an exercise in extreme ego and vanity, so he may decide to run anyway. 

Fox Business is reporting that potential independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz has told advisors that he was shocked by the near hysterical backlash from Democrats to the news that he may run in 2020 and that he was having second thoughts about entering the race.

Wishful thinking on the part of Democrats or anti-Trump Republicans? No advisors to Schultz are quoted directly in the story. Fox Business "learned" that Schultz told advisors of his second thoughts, which could mean they never even had direct contact with Schultz's top advisors.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't be surprising.

The reason for the rapid, and at times, nasty Democratic response is less about what Schultz stands for, and more about how he might impact the 2020 election: If he runs for president as an independent, Schultz is expected to draw votes from the Democratic nominee because of his progressive social positions, thus aiding Republican President Donald Trump’s re-election effort when the president suffers from chronically abysmal approval ratings.

Among Schultz’s most prominent critics has been fellow billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike BloombergOpens a New Window., himself a possible 2020 Democratic contender. Bloomberg, who also once considered an independent presidential bid, issued a statement that said if Schultz goes that route it will “just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the president.”

The intense nature of the criticism stunned Schultz, people close to him tell FOX Business. While he expected some carping, he did not foresee the ferocity of some of the vitriol, particularly from the party’s top officials and operatives. In addition to the barrage of criticism from leading Democrats, Schultz was also blindsided by the grass roots blowback, including being heckled during an event in New York City to promote his new book.

One person with knowledge of Schultz’s reaction to the attacks said he is “freaking out” about the criticism; another person described Schultz as being “surprised” by the severity of the Democratic Party backlash.

So which is it? "Freaking out" or "surprised"? More reason to doubt the story.

Schultz hasn't committed to a run, saying he is still exploring his options. And he has made it known he won't run unless he sees a path to victory. 

But a senior advisor to Schultz told FOX Business on Thursday that Schultz’s decision is far from final—and he won’t make up his mind until at least the summer. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Schultz is weighing several factors including how people outside the “Washington to New York Amtrak corridor” react to his ideas during events as he sells his new book, "From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of AmericaOpens a New Window.." Schultz’s memoir describes his working-class upbringing, business career, and the philosophy that underpins his beef with the political extremes he believes control both parties to the detriment of the country and may prod him to run for president.

The advisor added that Schultz has studied one of the barriers to entry for any independent candidate: The laborious process of getting on all the state ballots and he said Schultz believes that won’t present a significant obstacle. The bigger issues for Schultz is whether his message will resonate and whether he will win.

“What Howard needs to figure out still is whether there’s a need for him to be in the political process,” the advisor said. “Then he needs to figure out if he can win.”

If true, this means Schultz is still several steps away from making a decision to run. But his candidacy is such a threat that Democrats feel it necessary to shame him into staying on the sidelines.

It could be that once he gets to the point that he tries to determine whether he can win the presidency running as an independent that he will conclude he can't make it and refuse to run. Indeed, the best he could probably hope for is to win a few states and throw the race into the House of Representatives. There, with the two sides hopelessly deadlocked, political leaders would turn to him.

More a fantasy than a realistic scenario, to be sure. But running for president is an exercise in extreme ego and vanity, so he may decide to run anyway.