The Note: Reactions to Howard Schultz could make case for Howard Schultz

PHOTO: Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz looks out at the audience during a book promotion tour, Jan. 28, 2019, in New York.PlayKathy Willens/AP
WATCH Ex-Starbucks CEO considering 2020 run

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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Howard Schultz may or may not run for president, as he has told the world repeatedly this week.

But the former Starbucks CEO has already managed to do something that almost no one other than President Donald Trump has done in two years' time: drive a sustained debate on both policy and politics.

Schultz's mere suggestion that he would run as an independent candidate has driven the left into fits about what it means to be a spoiler. He has also forced Democrats to defend positions that have become mainstream for 2020ers, notably health care and taxes.

Part of the caffeinated cacophony of anti-Schultz sentiments is designed to drive him away from his presidential considerations, of course.

Still, as his advisers insist, Schultz is listening not to what tweeters and cable news voices are saying but to the atmospherics in which it's all being said. And he may be hearing a much more nuanced message.

His core argument is that neither party is capable of having a real discussion on issues. Yelling at him to go away hardly hurts that case, unless Schultz wants to read it that way.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

A whopping 367 days before the scheduled Iowa caucuses, some of the 2020 Democratic candidates are already lining up endorsements.

Maybe it's not a surprise that Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is backing his brother Julian or that Rep. David Trone, D-Md., is endorsing the man who used to hold his seat: former Rep. John Delaney.

PHOTO: Representative John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during the Democratic Wing Ding event in Clear Lake, Iowa, U.S., Aug. 10, 2018. Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Representative John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during the Democratic Wing Ding event in Clear Lake, Iowa, U.S., Aug. 10, 2018.

But it is a little wild that three Iowa Democratic Party County chairpersons endorsed Delaney's bid for president this week. Sen. Kamala Harris recently scored a couple congressional endorsements too.

It is risky for elected officials to hitch their cart to one person this early in the season, before most voters know everyone who's running. On the other hand, this puts even more pressure on others who are still thinking about running to get in sooner.

The TIP with John Verhovek

They are the only two Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 in states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but their answers to whether or not they will support President Donald Trump for re-election could not be more different.

"I'm not prepared to make that decision," Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who didn't support Trump in 2016, told PBS.

"I know what Kamala Harris and I know what Bernie Sanders will do to Colorado, and that's why I'll be supporting the president," Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner told the Independent Journal Review.

PHOTO: Maine Senator Susan Collins, left, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. Getty Images, FILE
Maine Senator Susan Collins, left, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner.

Both Collins and Gardner voted for the Democratic plan that would have temporarily re-opened the government last week, and as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Gardner bucked the president by refusing to support Alabama Senate special election nominee Roy Moore.

But as it was in 2018 for Republican senate hopefuls in tough races, Trump presents a constant challenge they have to confront.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News' Ali Rogin, who explains why the first congressional negotiations meeting on border security funding seemed largely symbolic. Then, ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security John Cohen explains the new asylum policy on the southern border. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Trump meets with American manufacturers and signs an executive order at 11:45 a.m. EST, then receives his intelligence briefing at 2:15 p.m. EST, and meets with the vice premier of the People’s Republic of China at 3:30 p.m. EST.
  • Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg appears on "The View."
  • Vice President Mike Pence visits the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arlington, Virginia, participates in a briefing, delivers remarks to DEA employees and participates in a swearing-in ceremony for James W. Carroll, the director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
  • Two 2020 hopefuls make appearances in Iowa: Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney holds a town hall meeting at 4:30 p.m. CST in Denison. Delaney then participates in a meet-and-greet with Webster County Democrats at 7 p.m. CST in Fort Dodge. Sen. Sherrod Brown attends a meet-and-greet with Tri-County Democrats at 6 p.m. CST in Cresco.
  • Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO and author of "From The Ground Up: A Journey To Reimagine The Promise Of America," holds a book tour event at 7:30 p.m. PST in Seattle.
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