SEATTLE — As former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is “seriously thinking” about a run for president in 2020, he explained in an exclusive interview with KING 5 why he would run as an independent and addressed concerns about splitting the Democratic vote.
“Nobody wants to see Donald Trump removed from office more than me; I will not be a spoiler,” Schultz said.
Schultz, who has never run for political office, stopped in Seattle on Thursday as part of his cross-country tour to promote his new book, From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.
The businessman has faced backlash from Democrats who worry he will draw votes away from a potential Democratic nominee, allowing for a second term in office for President Donald Trump. Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said last week she invited Schultz to talk about a presidential run, and if he’s a lifelong Democrat then he should run as a Democrat.
However, Schultz said he wasn’t completely on board with policy proposed by the Democrats, which drove him to run as an independent.
“What people are suggesting on the far left – and that’s why I can’t run as a Democrat – is free college tuition, a free government job for everybody, a $32 trillion proposal on free Medicare for everybody,” Schultz said. “It just doesn’t work.”
Schultz also disputed he would split the vote, citing numbers that 42 percent of the American electorate identify as an independent. He argued that running as an independent would offer the best chance at ousting Trump from the White House.
“I strongly believe there are lifelong Republicans who don’t want to vote for Donald Trump for re-election but will not vote for a progressive, left-minded, liberal Democrat,” Schultz said.
On the issues, Schultz stressed that he wasn’t just walking the party line for either group, using immigration and the border wall debate as a classic example.
Schultz said he agreed with Republicans that stronger border security was important, but added that what the country's needs is not just a physical wall but to leverage technology “to prevent bad people from coming into this country.” He also said he stood with DREAMers, or people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and that they should become citizens.
“This is the proxy for why I am here today,” Schultz said.
On healthcare, Schultz said the Affordable Care Act was the right thing to expand healthcare but acknowledged there were still areas that needed adjustment. As the former CEO of Starbucks, which offers healthcare to part-time and full-time employees, he also thought there was an opportunity to expand care through the private sector.
“Corporations in America need to have more skin in the game,” he said.
On gun policy, Schultz said he supports the Second Amendment but questioned whether “weapons of war” should be accessible to citizens.
“I think the question we should ask ourselves is what kind of country do we want to live in, and should weapons of war be part of our society?” Schultz said. “I think not.”