Schultz hires GOP House campaign staffer to political team

Schultz hires GOP House campaign staffer to political team
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Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO weighing an independent presidential run, is bringing a former senior Republican campaign aide onto his team, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Brendon DelToro, the former deputy political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is joining the ranks of senior staffers on Schultz’s team. A spokesperson for the NRCC did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

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The source cautioned that Schultz was still putting together a political operation and has not yet formally launched a campaign for the White House.

But the hire signals that the former Starbucks chief is reaching out to staffers from both sides of the aisle as he considers an independent challenge to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE in 2020.

Since announcing in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday that he was weighing such a bid, Schultz has sought to portray himself as a business-minded centrist without a place in either major political party.

That announcement prompted criticism from Democrats, who worry that an independent, third candidate in the 2020 presidential race could effectively hand Trump a second term in office by siphoning off key votes from the eventual Democratic nominee.

The recent hire of DelToro suggests that Schultz may be looking to court voters from both sides of the aisle. He criticized the Democratic Party this week as having gone “so far to the left,” while also denouncing Trump as “despicable.”

If he pulls the trigger on a White House bid, Schultz, who stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in 2017, would enter the race as one of the wealthiest candidates to ever seek the presidency, worth an estimated $3.4 billion. That could help fuel a would-be campaign through a potentially long and bruising election cycle.

--Lisa Hagen contributed to this report.

--Updated at 6:06 p.m.