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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Furious Democrats hope to pound Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz into an early departure from his exploration of an independent 2020 bid.

The state of play: These Democrats want to prevent the coffee king from siphoning anti-Trump votes and perhaps unintentionally helping re-elect President Trump. We're hearing threats of boycotts and social isolation, attacks on Starbucks, and emotional, insistent lobbying of his advisers.

One of Washington's best-wired party operatives told me: "I've talked to six dozen Democrats, and the overwhelming sentiment is that he will be pushed out by this incredible wave of disgust and disdain rolling his way."

  • "The flaw in Schultz's logic is that we're living in this massively abnormal moment," the operative continued. "When you're on the head of a pin, even 500 votes in the wrong place can be existential."
  • "The bottom line is: Nobody thinks this is sustainable."

Bill Burton, a former campaign and White House aide to President Barack Obama, is enduring the skepticism of friends to serve as a message and communications adviser to Schultz.

  • "The good news is that presidential elections are not decided on Twitter," Burton said.
  • "His decision on whether or not to run won't be decided there, either."
  • "The level of certainty by the pundits about how this'll play out reminds me of the certainty that President Obama couldn't win or President Trump couldn't win."

But for many powerful Dems, this is personal. They view Schultz's dabbling as a dangerous gamble, indulgence and diversion. They told Axios:

  • Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager: "He can't win, and he could seriously damage our ability to beat Donald Trump. He should either run as a Democrat, or spend his time and money doing something that won't ruin the world."
  • Philippe Reines, confidant of Hillary Clinton: "Howard Schultz is a jackass. ... He's arrogant and wealthy — and those people tend to not see the world as it is."

What's next: Schultz appears in Phoenix today on the tour for his new book, "From the Ground Up," then continues on to Seattle and other major cities.

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Go deeper

Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

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