Howard Schultz mulls 2020 run: A look at ex-Starbucks chief’s political views

Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz announced he is mulling a 2020 presidential bid as an independent over the weekend, drawing the attention of the current president on Monday morning — someone whom Schultz has been critical of in the past.

During an interview with CBS, Schultz said Trump was “not qualified” to be president.

While Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in June, he has been politically vocal and perhaps angling for a possible presidential run for much longer.

Schultz endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign and penned a letter to employees after President Trump’s victory, saying he was “stunned.”

“We cannot know what the precise impact will be on our country and the rest of the world,” Schultz wrote at the time. “I am hopeful that we will overcome the vitriol and division of this unprecedented election season.”

Here’s a look at some of the comments he has made on the political climate at Starbucks:

Racial divide

While acknowledging that the racial divide and inequities in America are problems that have existed “for quite some time,” Schultz told CNN during an interview in May that he believes President Trump’s rhetoric “has given license to people to feel as if they can emulate and copy the kind of behavior and language that comes out of this administration.”

The Starbucks leader made the comments as the company was announcing plans to close all of its stores so employees could take part in anti-bias training.

One way Schultz thought the White House could begin to close the divide was by putting humanity “in the center of our conversation.”

The American dream

Schultz called himself the “posterchild of the American dream” during the same May interview – having grown up in subsidized housing in Brooklyn to eventually becoming the chief executive of one of the nation’s largest and most prominent coffee and beverage chains.

“You have to ask yourself about the promise of America and the American dream,” Schultz said. “And if it’s not available to everybody, if people feel as if the color of their skin or their station in life is not going to provide them the same opportunity as someone who is white and who has a better zip code then the country is not going to succeed in terms of its long-term aspirations.”

Schultz was a progressive leader at Starbucks, making it one of the first companies, for example, to offer employees the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage – in June 2014.


In response to President Trump’s proposed travel ban, in 2017 Shultz implemented a program aimed at hiring 10,000 refugees over the course of five years across the 75 countries where it operates.

He also voiced his support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – a 2012 initiative that provides relief from deportation to eligible young immigrants.

In the same memo, Schultz advocated “building bridges, not walls, with Mexico.”

The national debt

Schultz has been critical of the national debt — which is currently more than $21 trillion.


He said during a June interview with Time the government needs a “centrist approach” to spending.

“There’s no for-profit business in the world that could sustain itself or survive with $20 trillion in debt,” he said. “And we can’t keep pushing this. … It’s just not responsible.”