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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.