Howard Schultz takes questions at CNN town hall

By Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 12:27 a.m. ET, February 13, 2019
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:24 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Why Howard Schultz thinks he's qualified to be president

A town hall attendee asked Howard Shultz why the former Starbucks CEO is qualified to be president.

Here's how he responded:

"I think my qualifications is my life experience. I grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, New York, in the projects. When I was 7 years old, my father came home from work, injured on the job, lost his health insurance, lost workman's compensation, and we were destitute as a family. I lived through the shame and the understanding of what it means to be in fear of no health insurance and no money. I took that experience and it provided me a lens of how I would see the world and how I would try to build my company."

He added that the US has "lost a sense of leadership in both parties" and "lost a sense of understanding about the values and the conscience of the country."

"The reason I'm here tonight and the reason I've stepped up is because I'm concerned about your children, my children, my grandchildren, and the future of the country," Schultz said. "I know we can do better than this."

10:40 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz says he's considering a presidential run because he's worried about the American people

Howard Schultz said he considering running for president because he's concerned for the American people -- though he doesn't you to compare him to Trump.

"I think his record and what he has accomplished within the Oval Office speaks for itself. I'm here today and speaking publicly about thinking about running for president because of my concern for the American people and my love of the country. I think we can be doing so much better than we are," Schultz said.

He continued: "I think we look at the country today, it's very fragile, our standing in the world, and what I think what's missing right now is a deep sense of leadership that the more than people are longing for and deserve, a sense of character, a sense of morality, a level of civility."

Schultz acknowledged that his business experience "is not qualifications to run for president, but it is what I've learned along the way."

Watch the moment:

10:03 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Howard Schultz takes stage at CNN town hall

The event just started, and you can watch it live in the video player above or on CNN.

10:00 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

He plans to tell his students what he heard tonight from Schultz

Darius Benton, a communications professor at University of Houston Downtown, said he's attending Howard Schultz's town hall with an open mind.

"I just like to stay aware," Benton said, adding that he's interested in learning about Schultz's platform. "Is this going to be good or bad?"

Benton is looking for Schultz's responses on two key issues: education and race relations.

Armed with information about Schultz, Benton said he plans to return to class and tell his students what he learned about the former Starbucks CEO.

9:49 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Outside the venue, they want to know to more about Schultz's positions on veterans

Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was joined tonight at CNN's town hall by at least 12 other local veterans who were hoping to learn more about Howard Schultz and his position on key issues affecting generations of veterans.

Veterans' issues, he said, are "often an afterthought." Butler said they'll be attending similar events around the country so they can get a better understanding on where the 2020 candidates stand on veterans issues.

The nonpartisan organization is focused on six big issues: veteran suicides, improve services for women veterans, medical use of cannabis, education, reforming government for veterans and support for veterans who suffered injuries for toxic exposures.

Jeremy Newton, a member of the organization's Houston chapter, said veterans are always looking for "high-quality care" and ways to make the Department of Veterans Affairs more effective.

The pair shot this short video for the organization's Facebook page moments before entering the town hall event:

9:42 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz's must get beyond the "Democratic outrage" and show "America who he is"

CNN Political Director David Chalian, speaking from Houston, said Howard Schultz faces an uphill battle: He is thought of as the person who could throw the 2020 election to President Trump.

"That's going to be his challenge tonight at this town hall, to address voters' questions and concerns about the issues that would animate an independent bid," Chalian said. "What would be the thing that would be the driving force and allow Americans to rally around a Schultz candidacy? That's his challenge, to sort of get beyond that democratic outrage tonight and really start showing America who he is, how he would apply his skills as CEO to the presidency, and what are the issues that will drive this candidacy for him?"

Watch Chalian's analysis here:

9:29 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Here's where Schultz stands on key issues

From CNN's Eli Watkins

(Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

A fierce critic of both President Donald Trump and of the left, former coffee mogul Howard Schultz has been trying to carve out a moderate position as he considers a 2020 bid.

Schultz, in remarks at Purdue University recently, ran through a slew of policy areas, generally hitting what he described as the "far left" and "far right" position on each rather than offering his own specific alternatives.

This is where he stands on keys issues affecting Americans:

  • Health care: Schultz went after both the left and right for their respective positions on immigration and on health care, saying that neither government-run health care or repealing Obamacare qualified as a "viable solution."
  • Taxes: Schultz's proposals included a call for tax reform that would lower taxes "for the middle class and small businesses" along with a call for the wealthy to pay their "fair share" -- including himself.
9:18 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Why Howard Schultz is sparking outrage among Democrats

From CNN's Sophie Tatum and Veronica Stracqualursi

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hasn't technically announced a presidential bid in 2020, but he's certainly mulling one.

But the idea of him jumping into an already crowded 2020 field has sparked outrage from Democrats, who worry an independent candidacy could split the anti-Donald Trump vote and pave the way for his re-election.

Schultz dismissed the criticism as a "false narrative" and argued that it would be a "far left progressive Democrat" who would hand Trump a second term.

But he also vowed that he "never put myself in a position where I would be the person who re-elects Donald Trump, but that is not what I believe today."

Last year, Schultz stepped down from his role as Starbucks chairman and CEO.

He said last month he is considering a run as a "centrist independent." 

9:07 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz has been preparing for a week leading up to tonight's town hall

From CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich and Dan Merica

(Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been preparing for tonight's town hall in Houston for the past week, a spokesperson for the billionaire tells CNN.

Most of the questions at the town hall will be asked by voters from Texas. Since Schultz left Starbucks six months ago, he's traveled across the country speaking to different groups -- including making a trip to the border in McAllen, Texas.

"I look forward to the dialogue and meeting Texans exhilarated by the idea of restoring power to the American people," he tweeted on Wednesday.

The town hall will take place at 10 p.m. ET.