Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, is considering run for president as independent
“I am seriously thinking of running for president,” Schultz said. “I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system.”
Although Schultz has not yet committed to doing so, he noted that he’s already assembled a team and said that he has conducted research for how to get on the ballot in all 50 states.
Throughout the interview, Schultz took direct shots at President Donald Trump — saying “this president is not qualified to be the president” — but also at the Democratic party, even though he is a lifelong Democrat.
“We see extremes on both sides,” Schultz said. “Both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people.”
Schultz knocked the Trump administration on policies like climate change, expressing his belief that Trump made a “tremendous mistake” in pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. But he also criticized Democrats’ Medicare-for-All healthcare proposal, calling it “as false as the wall,” and noting that free health care is something the country cannot afford.
No independent candidate in U.S. history has ever won the presidency. But Schultz said he believes this time may be different, pointing to the sizable number of registered independents across the country. “They are looking for a better choice,” he said.
That view has already drawn criticism from people like Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who told CNN that if Schultz runs as an independent, he would be giving Trump the “best hope of getting re-elected.”
But Schultz dismissed that concern outright, saying, “I want to see the American people win,” and noting that he is not “in bed” with either party.
Schultz has an incredible rags-to-riches story, having grown up poor in a housing project in Brooklyn. Today, he is a billionaire and one of America’s most respected business leaders.
He spent more than three decades building Starbucks into one of America’s most important companies, but has always taken an unconventional and socially conscious approach toward being a CEO. Over the years, he has offered health insurance, tuition aid, and stock options to employees.
After a well-publicized incident in which two black customers were wrongfully arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last year, Schultz implemented a company-wide mandatory anti-racial bias training.
When I sat down with him for an interview about the training, Schultz told me he hoped the company’s response could serve as a broader teaching moment for the country. “The promise of America is based on opportunity,” he said, “and discrimination and bias should not be part of the American story.”
Schultz has also been a leader on the issue of veterans. In 2014, he co-authored a book called For Love of Country, in which he called on Americans to do more to help military veterans. During that time, he also committed to hiring 10,000 veterans at Starbucks (In 2017, he committed to hiring 10,000 refugees in stores around the world). I also interviewed him about that book:
Schultz has authored a new book called From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America, a memoir that is set to be released this week. The book will detail his journey and offer lessons for the country from his personal and professional life.
Watch Schultz’s full 60 minutes interview here.