NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Howard Schultz may be on tour to sell books, but political passions took centre stage at the retired Starbucks chief executive's inaugural stop on Monday (Jan 28).
A day after saying in a television interview that he was seriously considering a run for the White House as an independent centrist, Schultz was interrupted twice by hecklers at a Barnes & Noble store in Manhattan.
One stood up just as the former Starbucks chairman was answering his first question from the moderator and called Schultz egotistical, urging him not to help re-elect President Donald Trump.
"Nobody wants to see Trump fired and leave office more than me," Schultz said, answering a question from moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin, a journalist at the New York Times.
Schultz said his potential third-party run could give voice to the "silent majority" of Americans who, like him, are concerned that the two major political parties are pushing away from the centre towards more extreme positions.
He called Trump "a very insecure man" and said the President had "been on the wrong side of almost every issue".
He criticised Democrats for pushing universal healthcare and free education, saying those ideas were not realistic.
Schultz said he would not consider running for president as a Democrat and would spend the next three months travelling the country before deciding whether to formally jump into the race.
As he backs his newly released book, From The Ground Up, Schultz will be travelling to cities across the US.
Most of the stops listed on his website are in liberal strongholds, like California, without any stops listed in states with early primaries like Iowa or New Hampshire.
The Brooklyn-born billionaire, who built Starbucks into a global brand, would be making his first run for public office if he formally throws his hat in the ring.
Speculation that he would make a bid for the White House ramped up last June after he announced his retirement as the chairman of Starbucks, listing public service as an option for his next chapter.
Schultz, 65, dabbled in politics and thorny social issues as he built Starbucks into one of the world's largest restaurant chains.
Still, his initial announcement he was mulling over a run faced criticism on both sides, including from Democrats concerned he'd siphon votes away from their party and help get Trump re-elected.
He declined to say specifically if he would drop out of the race if polling showed his candidacy could help Trump, but added, "I'm not going to do anything to put Trump back in the Oval Office."