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Howard Schultz. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz tells Axios he's "unfazed" by the online trashing from Democrats who think that by running for president as an independent, he could split the anti-Trump vote and re-elect the president.

What he's saying: "I'm putting myself in a position that I know is going to create hate, anger, disenfranchisement from friends, from Democrats," Schultz said after last night's "60 Minutes" segment unveiling his plan to explore an independent bid.

  • "I'm concerned about one thing: Doing everything I can to help families who have been left behind, and to restore dignity and honor back in the Oval Office."
  • "I'm not considering this to win the Twitter primary," he continued. "I believe that lifelong Democrats and lifelong Republicans are looking for a home, and they're not spending hours and hours on Twitter."

Schultz's fellow billionaire, Mike Bloomberg, looked at running as an independent, but will run as a Democrat if he plunges in.

  • Howard Wolfson, a top Bloomberg adviser, tweeted after Schultz's appearance: "I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote."
  • "The stakes couldn’t be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump’s re-election."

A Schultz adviser tells me his team sees opportunity in "the most moderate population the country's ever had," with so many "disengaged and disenchanted."

  • In the latest Gallup data, 39% of people see themselves as independents, 34% as Ds and 25% as Rs.
  • The adviser said research by the Schultz team shows a centrist independent would draw evenly from the Republican and Democratic nominees, and bring Trump down to a "statistical floor of 26-27-28 percent."

Schultz talks of "the level of toxicity, the level of revenge" in national politics. But when I asked about Democrats, he said: "I don't want to get into specific people."

  • When I asked Schultz for examples of conservative ideas he supports that liberals don't, he said: "I have been a loud voice with regard to the national debt and the deficit, going back to the years of President Obama."

Schultz said it's too early to talk about a running mate.

  • But when I asked him a Republican he admires, he said Purdue President Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor.
  • And when I asked him a CEO he admires, he singled out IBM's Ginni Rometty, who "defines authenticity."

Schultz plans to travel the country for the next three months. He'll appear on "The View" tomorrow — the publication date of "From the Ground Up," which he calls "part memoir, part blueprint for how to induce positive change."

  • He told me he'll decide by late spring or early summer.
  • He left open the possibility of self-financing his campaign, which leaves him in less of a rush than candidates who have to build a fundraising machine.
  • "I think I've got plenty of time," he said. "I'll gauge the level of interest in what I've come to believe over the last year — that a choice between Donald Trump and a far-left-leaning progressive Democrat provides a wide and large opportunity."

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Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.