For nine days, presidential hopeful and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been touring through the nation on a book tour that is now serving as an exploratory trip for an independent run for president. On Tuesday, the coffee mogul joined journalist James Fallows for a discussion of his new book “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America” but inevitably the conversation veered towards his desire to “disrupt” the 2020 presidential election.

“We need to ask the question, what kind of country do we want to live in?” Schultz said in front of a packed house at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge. “We live in a time where everyone of every possible political persuasion wants to divide us, and I’m here to say no.”

Though Schultz’s intention to run as an independent has caused consternation and panic within mainstream political circles, some who are close to the billionaire have said he’s been mulling a run since at least 2012. In Cambridge, Schultz pitched himself as a moderate who wants to put an end to Washington gridlock and move the nation away from both the far-right and the far-left.

“The government is not working well,” Schultz said. “The two party system at the extremes are refusing to make any compromise on behalf of the American people.”

Despite his desire to unite, Schultz has been met with pushback not just from members of the political establishment, but also from regular citizens, some of whom were protesting his desire to run on a third-party ticket on Tuesday.

“If Howard Schultz is going to run because his ego is over-inflated and he’s not factoring the needs of the country, then it’s important to say something about it and not just let it go,” Andover resident Pam Poindexter said outside of the event. “I don’t want to see Trump elected again.”

During the event, Schultz said he doesn’t view himself as a spoiler candidate and that the last thing he wanted to do was play a role in President Donald Trump’s re-election. The former chief executive said he was motivated to enter the race because of his concerns over the policies of candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris, whose endorsement of universal healthcare he called “un-American,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he said will lead the nation to socialism.

“I’m convinced that millions of Americans who are registered Republicans cannot see themselves voting for a left person on the Democratic side and will vote for Donald Trump,” Schultz said.

Schultz pointed to the statistic that 42 percent of the electorate are registered independents, and argued that the path to victory for any candidate is to appeal to the middle rather than either wing. According to Jennifer Nassour, the former chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, when it comes to Massachusetts, the billionaire may have found a winning strategy.

“If the Democratic Party is going to put up an Elizabeth Warren or a Kamala Harris you end up losing that game to Trump,” Nassour said. “So, if Schultz can come in on the [Gov. Charlie] Baker kind of moderate political, tough businessman with good solutions and good manager [pitch] and seem stable I think he would end up winning a lot of votes in Massachusetts.”

However, some on the left are not so sure Schultz will find kindred spirits within the Democratic Party or the nebulously defined progressive movement on a platform of cutting social security benefits and refusing to endorse universal healthcare.

“I don’t see where the movement is for what he’s talking about, which is that he’s pro-same sex marriage, and transgender rights, but he also wants to cut their social security and medicare,” Mara Dolan, co-founder of the political action group Left of Center, said. “I think he’s getting very bad political advice, and I don’t think he has a path to victory.”

Though Schultz has offered little in the way of formal policy proposals, he has said that he’s in favor of a “sensible” approach to immigration, the Trump tax cuts were an “immoral act,” and job security for every American is a priority. During his talk, Schultz frequently cited his own childhood, where his parents did not have health insurance, as an inspiration for why affordable healthcare for every American was a priority of his. But he also said he would not support any kind of universal healthcare program.

“A single-payer system would basically wipe out the role and responsibility of insurance companies. ... It’s not realistic,” Schultz said. “I think there are better ways to solve this problem, and it’s not only on the government.”

When it came to foreign policy, Schultz criticized the president for wanting to take troops out of Syria, and implied he would maintain a troop presence and work closely with the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit. He also voiced an interest in working more closely with China on issues such as climate change. He said he viewed the nation not as an enemy, but as a “fierce competitor,” before criticizing Trump for pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and starting a trade war with China.

“President Trump in less than two years has basically done everything possible to create friction with our allies, and has gotten China completely wrong,” Schultz said.

Outside of staking positions on popular issues, much of Schultz’s pitch focused on his time as CEO and chairman of one of the largest brand names in the world. During his time at Starbucks, Schultz said he was confronted with the realities of the opioid epidemic and American poverty, and it convinced him that corporations need to do more to help the communities in which they own businesses.

“I’m just trying not to be a bystander,” Schultz said. “Wealthy people need to pay more, corporations need to pay more and there needs to be fairness and integrity in the way we do things.”

Previously, Schultz has admitted to having Democratic leanings, but his motivation to run as a third-party candidate stems from his desire to break the influence of the two party system in Washington.

“If I did run for president, and was fortunate enough to win, for the first time in history the American people would speak so loud with their disgusts and frustration with what’s going on,” Schultz said. “For the first time in years, you’ll see moderate Republicans and Democrats leave their uniforms, and compromise for what’s best for the American people.”

Schultz still faces a steep uphill climb to win the presidency. According to Nassour, refusing to participate in the mainstream party primary process will mean he’ll most likely not be invited to participate in any debates, a big avenue of publicity for candidates with low name recognition. Others like Dolan feel he’ll continue to engender distaste within traditional Democratic circles if he pursues a run as an independent.

“I think he’s going to find out he’s not nearly as popular as his advisors think he is,” Dolan said. “He’s going to face [hecklers] everywhere he goes, and I’m not sure how enjoyable that’s going to be for him. So, I don’t know how long he’s going to last.”

Schultz said he will not be making a formal decision for another few months, but a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign says Schultz has already hired staff to help him with an independent run.