Fresh off his much-hyped, and by insiders' accounts sub-par, "unconscious bias" training sessions, the progressive outgoing chairman of Starbucks is making it painfully obvious that he is looking to trade his success in the business world for a go at the political sphere.
On Monday, Howard Schultz, 64, announced that he would be stepping down from Starbucks by the end of June, igniting speculation that he was planning a 2020 presidential run. On Tuesday, Schultz expanded his political rhetoric and laid the groundwork for framing himself as a centrist Democratic presidential candidate.
Speaking with CNBC's regrettably named "Squawk Box," Schultz dropped a few lines that sure sounded a lot like test runs for campaign slogans:
- "We need to do things that restore the promise of the country and our standing around the world," said Schultz. ("Schultz: Restoring America's Promise" — a progressive's version of "Make America Great Again.")
- "We have to move the ideology out and do what’s best for the American people," he said. ("Schultz: Doing Was Best For The American People" — a slightly less jingoistic version of "America First.")
- "It's not about trade wars with China, it's not about building a wall, it's about getting our house in order," he said. (Schultz: Getting America's House In Order, or something. Yeah, that's not going to make the final cut.)
In the interview, Schultz predictably leveled much criticism at the Trump administration, but he also threw in some rather harsh critiques of the Democrats for a little more centrist balance.
The Republicans' increasingly popular $1.5 trillion tax cuts, said Schultz, were "reckless" because they raised the national debt. Trump's White House was "vitriolic." The president was risking unnecessarily provoking a trade war with China.
But Schultz also directed some strong words toward the Democratic Party, which he faulted for moving "so far to the left" and promoting utopian "falsehoods."
"It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left," he said. "I say to myself, 'How are we going to pay for these things,' in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don't think that's realistic."
It's time to "start talking about the truth and not false promises," he said. "I think the greatest threat domestically to the country is this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations. The only way we're going to get out of that is we've got to grow the economy, in my view, 4 percent or greater. And then we have to go after entitlements."
Schultz 2020? With Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden as the Democrats' frontrunners, why not?