By Carlo Versano
Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO who is considering an independent bid for president, declared that he is "a proud capitalist," and said if Democrats embrace socialism they would hand President Trump an easy re-election in 2020.
"For anyone who has been a business person to decline the fact that he's a capitalist demonstrates how afraid these people are about how far left the party is going," Schultz said Monday in an interview with Cheddar.
He called out by name the candidates he said are leading the Democratic party's leftward tilt ー Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren ー and said if any of them get the nomination, "President Trump will get re-elected."
Schultz also said that he hoped former vice president Joe Biden entered the Democratic race. "I think it would be good for the party to have a centrist in there," he said.
Asked about some of the left-wing policies proposed by the Democratic candidates, Schultz was dismissive.
He said a proposal by Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who recently introduced a bill that would hold executives more accountable for corporate misconduct, including jail time, was particularly misguided.
"Has Elizabeth Warren ever made a payroll?" he said, adding that the former Harvard law professor, "can't find a market for her policies." Schultz said Warren's call to break up the big tech firms is also wrong, saying those firms need "oversight, not regulation."
Schultz, who as head of Starbucks offered health insurance to all of the coffee chain's full and part-time employees, said that he was best qualified to overhaul health policy for 327 million people. "I've done this and I can do it again if I run for president," he said.
He also said he was the candidate with "common-sense solutions to complex problems we've had for a long time," including the mounting $22 trillion national debt, income inequality, and the country's broken immigration system. He gave few specifics in how he would tackle those issues.
"Democrats and Republicans are complicit in recklessly adding to the deficit and the debt," Schultz said.
And he blamed both parties for failing to understand the pressures on the country's southern border with Mexico, and said "the real crisis is a crisis of leadership" with regard to immigration.
Schultz said the flow of migrants crossing the southern border could be stemmed if both parties worked together to find a solution. He did not say what that solution would be, other than fully funding ICE to keep "bad people" from entering the country and leveraging the private tech sector to help with "verification."
"We need strict border security to keep illegal people out," Schultz said, but Trump should, "forget about the wall."
He also said that he supported a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S.
After taking shots at Republicans and Democrats, Schultz said he didn't want or need the backing of a major party to win voters' support even though an independent candidate has never won the U.S. presidential election ー if you don't count George Washington. Schultz said a centrist independent like himself has a viable path to 270 electoral votes once most mainstream voters ー 42 percent of whom are independents, he noted ー hear his common-sense approach to solving the country's problems.
"Believe me, there is large market, and a large market of millennials who recognize the system is broken, it's corrupt," Schultz said. "Both parties are not interested in solving their problems, and what we need is to disrupt and transform the system."
Schultz didn't specifically say what changes he would make, or exactly how how the electoral math would work for him to garner enough electoral votes in the states that matter most to win an election against two major-party nominees.
"I will bring honor and dignity back," Schultz saidー if he ultimately decides to run.
Democrats have urged him not to , arguing that his candidacy would help re-elect President Trump (an outcome Schultz's own polling supports).
For full interview click here.