Billionaire Howard Schultz announced on Wednesday that he has undergone three back surgeries, keeping him away from the campaign trail over the last several months, and said he would not return until after Labor Day.
The former Starbucks CEO announced in January that he was “seriously thinking” about mounting a bid for president as an independent candidate, and began touring the country to hear from voters. His announcement drew swift backlash from Democrats, who feared a Schultz candidacy would split the anti-Trump vote in 2020 and hand President Trump a second term.
But Schultz has been absent from the campaign trail since an Arizona event in April, and he’s tweeted only sparsely, primarily to mark holidays.
“While I was in Arizona, I unfortunately experienced acute back pain that required me to cut my travels short,” Schultz said in a statement on Wednesday. “Over the following two months, I underwent three separate back surgeries. Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that.”
Schultz did not shut the door entirely on jumping into the 2020 race for president and called his absence a “detour” that he’s reluctantly taking. He said he would give an update after Labor Day.