Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is letting most of his presidential campaign staff go and will suspend campaign activities for the summer while he recovers from back surgery.
He announced Wednesday his campaign is going on a hiatus while he recovers, and HuffPost reports he cut all but his senior staff. Schultz has been traveling the country to determine the level of interest among voters for an independent candidacy, but he experienced back pain during a stop in Arizona two months ago and has had three back surgeries since.
A Schultz aide said, "He is realigning a team for the next phase of his exploration."
Schultz is reportedly watching former Vice President Joe Biden's candidacy most closely, since he considers him the leading moderate candidate. If Biden falters, Schultz could choose to enter the race in the "centrist" lane.
As for his health, he said he's feeling well but wants to follow doctors' orders by resting this summer.
"Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate," Schultz said in a statement. "I have decided to take the summer to do just that."
"I take this detour from the road reluctantly," Schultz continued. "My concern for our country's future remains, as does my belief that the American people deserve so much more from our elected officials."
Schultz will release an update after Labor Day.
He has hit Democrats for proposing left-wing policies that he calls "fantas[ies]" that will never be implemented.
Democrats reacted negatively to his potential candidacy. Rep. Katie Hill (D., Calif.) and presidential candidate Julian Castro said his candidacy would help President Donald Trump win reelection, while liberal MSNBC analyst Karine Jean-Pierre said his actions were "very dangerous" and "we cannot allow this to happen."
"Pod Save America" co-host Jon Favreau called Schultz's candidacy a "fucking awful thing to do," and former Obama adviser David Axelrod deemed it a "gift" for Trump.