Starbucks faces tricky time as ex-CEO mulls presidential run

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
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DETROIT (AP) (2/1/2019) - Starbucks will have to tread carefully while its former CEO Howard Schultz decides whether he will run for president.

Schultz spent more than 30 years at Starbucks, growing it into a much-admired global brand. But if he runs, Starbucks could lose customers.

Some Democrats are already boycotting the chain because they fear Schultz will run as an independent and tip the 2020 presidential election to President Donald Trump. A campaign could also remind conservatives of Schultz's outspoken support of gay marriage.

Marketing experts say Starbucks needs to distance itself from Schultz through clear social media messages.

In a letter to employees, Starbucks' current CEO Kevin Johnson said he wishes Schultz well, but emphasized that Starbucks doesn't get involved in national political campaigns and that employees should respect customers' diverse opinions.