‘Nobody wants to see this president leave office more than me…’
(Lisa Donovan, Chicago Tribune) 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. 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—the discussion quickly focused on his potential independent bid for president.
Schultz complained about the current political climate, saying both the economic and racial divide were at a simmer but could boil over anytime, as they did during the series of race riots in the final years of the Barack Obama presidency.
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.”
Although many would consider him to have been on the far left prior to his campaign, Schultz described himself as an independent centrist. He cited his views on immigration to support the claim. He said he doesn’t want a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico but agrees that security should be tightened.
Most other politicians on the Left have publicly taken such a position, although there is considerable speculation that by inexplicably opposing a physical barrier they tacitly are signaling support for open borders.
“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.
In return for wall funding, Trump recently offered a three-year extension on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through which Dreamers are eligible to remain in the U.S. However, Democrats quickly rebuffed the offer.
Noting that Obama’s spotlight issue was health care while Trump focuses on the border wall and trade, Schultz said his signature issue, if elected president, would be paving the way for “financial security for every American family.”
While to some that may seem like an alarming dog-whistle for socialist policies like universal basic income, Schultz claimed he was merely referring to comprehensive tax reform.
He said corporations need to offer employees better benefits and pay more taxes.
“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.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
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