By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON, June 12 (Reuters) - Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks who began building an independent campaign for president earlier this year, announced on Wednesday that he was pausing his bid after undergoing three back surgeries this spring.
"Today, I am feeling much better, and my doctors foresee a full recovery so long as I rest and rehabilitate. I have decided to take the summer to do just that," Schultz said in an email to supporters.
While campaigning in Arizona in April, Schultz said he began to experience acute back pain. He subsequently underwent three surgeries.
"I take this detour from the road reluctantly. My concern for our country’s future remains, as does my belief that the American people deserve so much more from our elected officials," he wrote in the email.
A darling among segments of the business community that are unhappy with Republican President Donald Trump, Schultz opted not to run as a Democrat as it became clear more than 20 candidates were gearing up to challenge the incumbent.
Schultz's desire to run as an independent faced staunch criticism from Democrats who worry he could divide the anti-Trump vote.
Schultz was critical of the Democratic Party in interviews announcing his likely run. He said the party was moving too far to the left and that it would make it more difficult to defeat Trump.
“We have a Democratic Party that’s moving closer and closer to fracturing our democracy and free enterprise system with socialism. And I’m here to say, ‘No, that’s not the way to go,’ Schultz said in an interview in March. (Reporting by Ginger Gibson, editing by G Crosse and Dan Grebler)