Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz vows not to be ‘spoiler’ for Trump’s re-election
CHICAGO — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told a Chicago crowd Monday night that he’s been battered and bruised by Democrats nationally who are angered that he’s contemplating an independent run for president.
But Schultz said he’s unbowed by critics, joking that he’s already lost the Twitter primary. He said he doesn’t believe an independent bid will split the Democratic vote and hand Republican President Donald Trump a second term.
“I promise I will do nothing to be a spoiler to re-elect Donald Trump. Nobody wants to see this president leave office more than me,” Schultz said at a downtown event where he fielded questions from Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson, who is a vice chair of the Starbucks board and Schultz’s friend. While he said he didn’t believe the spoiler narrative to be true, he vowed to “back out” of a run if it appears things are going that way.
Originally scheduled to be at the event as part of his book tour — a memoir of his rags-to-riches story of a kid growing up in New York public housing who would go on to make billions in Seattle as a coffee mogul — Hobson, a Democrat, quickly focused the conversation on his potential independent bid for president. She pressed him to offer details as he complained about the politically divisive climate and a nation where the economic and racial divide is at a simmer.
For his part, Schultz said he wants to see an end to divisive politics and a focus on the government addressing domestic issues such as poverty and the opioid crisis. He pointed to his own life story and said he wants to help revive people’s faith in the American Dream.
“I want to do everything I can to restore it and I don’t believe it can be restored in a two-party system that is fighting with each other every day, that is dysfunctional, polarized and more engaged in revenge politics than helping the American people,” Schultz said. At one point he offered: “Right now, I’m having the courage of my convictions to believe that the system is broken, our politics are broken and someone needs to try and change it.”
Schultz described himself as an independent centrist, a notion he said is supported by his views on immigration. He said he doesn’t want a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico but agrees that security should be tightened.
“We can accomplish that not by a wall, although in some cases maybe some kind of barrier is effective, but basically we can have the technology and the resources to provide the security of a wall,” Schultz said. “The Democrats want to abolish (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). I don’t agree with that, we need people at the border.”
He said he also believes that “Dreamers,” young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, should be given a path to citizenship.
“The majority of the country wants an immigration bill, but we can’t get it. Why can’t we get it? We can’t get it because the extremes on both sides control the American government,” he said.
Schultz said his signature issue, if elected president, would be paving the way for “financial security for every American family,” he told Hobson, who noted that President Barack Obama’s spotlight issue was health care while Trump focuses on the border wall and trade.
Schultz said corporations need to offer employees better benefits and pay more taxes. He said the time is ripe for comprehensive tax reform
“The United States government is not going to be able to solve every problem,” he said. “I think there’s somewhat of a crisis of capitalism in the country.”
Schultz said he’ll be traveling the country over the coming months to “see if I can ignite a national conversation and a national movement,” hinting that he may make a firm decision by spring.