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Why this Army general supports Howard Schultz presidential candidacy

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shakes hands after speaking Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at an event to promote his book, "From the Ground Up," in Seattle. Schultz has faced a rocky reception since he announced earlier in January that he's considering an independent presidential bid. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently announced he is “seriously considering” running for president in 2020 as an independent candidate, much to the chagrin of some Democrats and Republicans.

But he hasn’t come to this position on his own. He has a team of advisors who have been discussing his potential over the past few months. One of them is retired Army General Peter Chiarelli.

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“Howard is a leader,” Chiarelli told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “I have 40 years of leadership experience. I may not be able to do a lot very well, but I do know a leader when I see one.”

“When I see how he took a single store and built it into a company that is in 77 nations, that provides health care, education, and stock options for his partners,” he said. “That to me is somebody who is a tremendous leader and that is the single thing to drew me to Howard Schultz.”

General Chiarelli served 40 years in the Army, spending considerable time in Iraq, and working up to vice chief of staff. After retiring, he returned to his hometown of Seattle. It is here where he has been spending time with Schultz.

Chiarelli said that he has discussed the military and the Department of Defense with Schultz over the past year and a half. He notes that former Starbucks CEO is the kind of leader who surrounds himself with people who are smarter than him in order to be successful.

“What Howard continues to say is that he is not in this to win the Twitter primary,” Chiarelli said. “He is in this to find out if America wants a different choice – somebody from the middle who is going to pull people who want to work together from both political parties.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that he is (ready to face Donald Trump),” he said.

Despite that confidence, Chiarelli is quick to remind that Schultz is only considering running as an independent candidate for president, and has not announced an official campaign. He says that it is likely that Schultz will be touring the country in the coming months, and not just in the primary states.

“He’s in an exploratory phase right now,” Chiarelli said. “Just trying to gauge whether there is interest, whether there is a movement that can be built in the United States that could support an independent candidacy … he is not going to run as a Democrat. He wants to give people a different choice, a choice from the center.”

“I think we are a little early in the process (to talk about) going one-on-one with the president,” he said. “But I promise you, when that day comes, Howard Schultz will be ready.”

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