Should Howard Schultz Run for President?
They. From the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac watch Howard Schultz, the billionaire and former Starbucks CO says he may run for president as an independent Democrats are furious, including billionaire Michael Bloomberg who issued a criticism. How does the possibility of Schultz candidacy stir up the presidential race for twenty twenty welcome? I'm Paul zhigo with the Wall Street Journal here with Kim strassel. Hello Kim hype. And Bill mckern. Hey, bill. Hey, paul. So this is so as the Democrats begin to enter the race. And there are a lot of them already Kamala. Harris Jila brand Elizabeth Warren, Joe, Biden and Bernie Sanders way sit waiting in the wings. Maybe Mike Bloomberg Howard Schultz gets on sixty minutes. Cam and says, well, I'm going to think running as a not as democrat as many expected he might but as an independent and he says. Is that there's a forty percent of the electorate being an declared independent therefore that gives him some running room, even though no independent since a third party candidate since bills. Good friend. Abraham LINCOLN and eighteen sixty has won the White House. So the what do you make of the Scholtz candidacy? Well, most notable is a degree to which the left has melted down over this. He came out not only to give that interview he had a a an op-ed that he ran making the case for why this is a viable candidacy if he goes forward, we can talk about that a little bit but the left Shirley abuses. They see this in black and white that if he runs he pulls away voters from their candidates and guarantees a Trump victory. And so as you said, Michael Bloomberg actually issued a statement in which he lectured about the perils of independent runs and why he had chosen not to do that. And instead run as a democrat if he runs it all near a tannin who runs the liberal center for American progress said that if Schultz got in the race, she would start a national. Starbucks boycott to make sure that she didn't have any money to pursue such an ambition say personally. It is now here's the thing. And and I think this is I'm not quite sure that if Schultz were to run that he necessarily only takes votes from Democrats. I think there's a case to be made that there are some of those suburban Republican voters who might be looking for someone that's not a far left candidate. That is not Donald Trump, and that they might pull the lever for him that being said in general, it is a case that independent candidates. Do have a very hard ho arro- to ho and I'm not quite sure what the actual potential is for this. I mean, my my view of this is that very hard for independent to win. I think even if you throw it into the house of representatives with deny anybody two hundred seventy electoral votes, then each house delegation gets a single vote and probably goes to either a Republican or democrat. But. It's a different story about whose votes he will take. And I don't think it's a done deal at all foregone conclusion that he would take democratic votes. I think it depends in part on how he campaigns what he campaigns on. It depends on who the Democrats nominate if they nominate somebody from the from the real populist laughed than it would increase as prospects for maybe getting a more votes. But just tell you both the story I was it was nineteen Ninety-two spring of nineteen ninety two. I was having lunch with Al Gore, and we were talking before going to lunch in his Senate office. And remember this was the time when Ross Perot was into the race still in the race had withdrawn yet only to get back later, and he was doing extremely well and Bill Clinton had been battered beaten down during the presidential primary season. Even as he emerged as the nomination winner. And I remember gore telling me, you know, we've got George H W Bush up here they used hand gestures and says we got Bill Clinton here. But there's a danger that Ross Perot will move ahead of Bill Clinton Clinton could finish third now as we all know within a couple of months Trump. I mean ski pardon me, not trumpet Bill Clinton, soared to the top and Perot ended up basically taking blowing up the the Reagan Republican coalition, and and help any fish with nineteen percent of the vote didn't get any electoral votes. But but helped Bill Clinton win. Why couldn't that something like that happen again? I think you could happen at look, we don't know we don't really know Mr. Schultz's platform is. And because he's a businessman in a successful businessman. And I think has demeanor is bell typically modest people are suing. He's very moderate. I I wonder. How well he's going to be able to sell that sub substantially on the issues, you know, where he would oppose will he oppose Medicare for all? I think he probably would be curious in. But will he really mounted defense? Look the traditional third party guy. Runs to do one of two things to be a spoiler. Right. I mean, you could argue the Jill Stein was spoiler in the Trump campaign in three states. She her vote total was more than the margin run as Bill. She ran green party green part. And now the which brings to another thing a lot of times people run for publicity for their cause of their their party. And they don't care what I think Evan McMullan strategy ran as an independent was to deprive Trump of some electoral votes. I don't he didn't succeed. So we don't know where it's where it's going to go, and we don't know who it's going to. I mean, the Democrats I think the assumption that he hurts them is that they think they've got this locked up and they're gonna go with their. You know, Bernie type agenda when you say they're going to win the deer going to Trump is going to lose. Right. And so that now they see this this man as as an obstacle to that. And and another wildcard is a you. And I have seen a lot of businessmen try to enter politics in most of the time they failed their often just too nice. Right. Trump. Didn't have that problem. Right. He fired back, you know, as tough as he got. But most business people can't take that they're not used to that kind of zero. Some you know, the opposition has to be destroyed their they're used to giving and taking and it'll be interesting to see where he falls we interests seat. Does he follow it all the way through or does? He does he go out. Kim does do any Democrats think that I mean as you lineup you watch the press, the democratic press columnist, they are uniformly taking the view that he that Scholtz would take votes away from Democrats. There any contrary thinking out there. Not much. No, not at the moment. They're pretty uniformly of that opinion. But I would also point out for the all those liberal candidates and voters and the press as well that you know, one of the reasons I give Howard Schultz credit for this. If he is going to run Michael Bloomberg has said, well, I'm going to run as a democrat because there's no room for an independent person. And you will only end up panning this Donald Trump. I think what Howard Schultz understands is. There is no room for a person like Howard Schultz in the Democratic Party. And I think Michael Bloomberg might discover that for himself when he and if he gets in that this is a party at the moment that is dominated by progressive base. That is not going to have tolerance in my view for any kind of moderate or centrist positions on anything. So if you look at Schultz, he's. A little bit more democratic leaning when it comes to some of these touch point issues in the party. He's with them on immigration. He's with them on climate change. But he's definitely more of a capitalist in that he defends private markets. He criticized Alexander, okay, Zia Cortez recently for her proposal of a seventy percent tax rate on the wealthy. He rejected that so, but these are positions that used to be held within what was called the centrist or moderate wing of the Democratic Party. There isn't a lot of room for them there now. And I think the only way you could buy ably, maybe even compete would be to do an independent run. Right. We're talking about Howard Scholtz as an independent presidential candidate. And you're listening to Potomac watch from the Wall Street Journal. From the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac watch. Welcome back on Paul's you go with Bill mcgurn and Kim Strauss talking about Howard Schultz. Starbucks former Starbucks CEO's potential run for president. And Kim you suggested that there's no room within the Democratic Party for a moderate these days, but we will get some in Terry McAuliffe. The former governor of Virginia Clinto Nian he's going to maybe run Mike, Bloomberg might Ron John Hickenlooper, their former Colorado governor, my rumba, I hear you saying is you just don't think they're going to get much traction because of the nature of the party. Now is that is that a fair interpretation? Yeah. Absolutely. I look back to four years ago when Jim Webb who was a Senator a moderate democrat launched his own bid for the presidency. Any he essentially lasted what a few weeks era month before he was run out. They actually booed him. When he walked on stage. And that was for for debate that was four years ago, the party's moved even more left now. So, you know, Michael, Bloomberg he may be making a tactical decision to run as a democrat. But we'll see how open Democrats are to his more at least self-proclaimed moderate style of of democratic politics. Will if you if you if you look at what Howard Schultz is is is running on. He is saying as you say he he's against Medicare for all. He says nation can't afford it. He's going to try to focus on the national debt and deficits and say, we're gonna keep our house in order a Bill of very business thing, my man's kind of view Ross Perot in on that low these many decades ago, the he's he is more pro market. He says ObamaCare shouldn't be repealed. But it can be fixed in justed he wants role for private private health insurance disagrees with Trump most Facific. Early on immigration, and I think on alliances as well. He's mentioned that and kind of an but above all on manners and style and thinks Trump is simply too polarizing, and as as as a leader is that is that enough to coalesce, and they'll be no doubt obvious specific proposals. But as a Nuff to coalesce a big enough coalition to to deny either the other two two hundred seventy votes. I'm not sure, you know, you mentioned the ninety two election, right? I mean, Bill Clinton was essentially the Howard Schultz, then right coming in off the Dukakis off the do Dakotas defeat saying we're gonna have he triangulate had much more moderate. We can argue that whether it was sincere or not. But it was a lot more moderate. He was a governor. So an executive. I mean, it's it's very democrat independent, but right as a gender was closer to Scholtz than to write. Right. And it's and it's interesting that so few of the democratic candidates are actually executive by which I mean governors or something because those are people that actually have some experience in when they're not it tends to push them in the other direction. I think I think he's calculated it'd be very hard and the Democratic Party to get those people that that they're substantive looking in a party that has made identity politics such an important part. It's just hard to see how an old white billionaire gets a nomination. I think he's made a pretty good calculation that way. Well in his calculation Kim is that in addition to forty percent of the electorate being declared, independent of the Democrats would go far left if they chose that Trump is polarizing and who knows what trouble he'll be in ethically. Or through the with a special counsel, come twenty twenty van? That there's a plausible case for him to run up the middle as a competent billionaire Hiba well-funded he can fund his his own campaign. He's got intriguingly Steve Schmidt. The former George W Bush adviser and John McCain supporter in his camp planning. Bill Burton democrat who was with Hillary Clinton longtime democratic operative. So we've got some from each party. And you know, their case would be that far from taking votes away from a necessarily from just from the Democrats. They could peel away those moderate reluctant Trump voters from two thousand sixteen. Yeah. They also cite in the Schultz Abed that was out today. They pointed out the number of Americans in poll after poll, and this is the case say that they are dissatisfied with both of the current reigning parties. Now, we get pulled like this a lot. It's when you ask that top line question, people will often say that, but it's more of an expression of just disgruntlement with government in general, if you drill down to people, there's a reason we are polarized in this country, and it's because people do have very strongly held opinions on certain policy issues and about the way the country should be governed. So not quite sure that that number is reflective of I think the number something like sixty percent say that they're unhappy with the system it's probably much smaller one that would vote for a third party candidate simply on the principle that it's not one of the existing parties. But is there a plausible case? Yes. And that's why. Because we don't know what our political system necessarily looks like these days all kinds of strange things happen. We've seen big shifts. Look, Donald Trump is president something that people said absolutely could never happen. So I guess my bias was at everyone ought to have a bit of humility about what could roll out in the future and certainly possible he could take voters from both sides of the aisle more. So Kim, I take that point very much that this election could be wild. I'm in. We could have a Republican challenge to for the primaries for Trump. I mean, Larry ho right Maryland's been mooted. We could have or John casick decided that we could have. As well. We're going to have a huge democratic field. And who knows how that turns out? It's going to be left leaning, but there's going to be a lot of candidates. And then who knows how many other candidate? Let's say Schultz gets in that could be one third party. I wouldn't rule out that John casick might run in his own right as another there could be four or five presidential candidates. Now, we haven't had four serious presidential candidates since again, this was bills. Good friends in nineteen forty eight of the had Henry Wallace run left-wing progressive you had Harry Truman as the democrat and Strom Thurmond ran as a Socratic Dixie crat, and I think one four five states Truman, of course. And Tom, Dewey ran as the Republican, and and some how do we manage to lose that race of the democratic vote was divided three ways. But that's the last time that you had. Four candidates. You had a nineteen sixty eight you had George Wallace winsome states as a third party candidate. That's the last time a third party candidate one electoral, votes course, Richard Nixon narrowly beat Humphry that raise Perot. You've got nineteen percent. He didn't win any electoral votes again the same thing. Yeah. Interesting. What about five percent from in nineteen eighty? So it's I think this race is going to be wild will. And I think Paul in addition to all that one thing we all know from watching this. It's so early in the season and a lot of times your front runners self immolate or something there's there's so many things that candidate B is behind and not the favorite one. But then candidate a blows up and that happens all the time someone that on paper should be winning should be on front. Something happens. And and or there are external actions something happens overseas. So a lot changes. Camp. Do you think Scholtz runs in the end? Well, what he said is that he is he made a couple of promises, and that op-ed he said, I am not going to do it unless I think I have a viable path for winning. Good. That's a pretty big out. That's good ramp. And and he explained that he has hired some consultants. We mentioned Steve Schmidt to help McCain. Bill Burton democrat or worked on the Obama campaign one side. And then the other side Republican democrat consultants working with them. They're going to do lot of polling and and a lot of investigation. And then also he made the promise unless he felt he could do the job. Well, we'll of course, you wouldn't even start the entire process of saying you're gonna run for president. Let's you think you'd be the best in the world. So I think we can assume that he will satisfy himself on that point. But yet they'll do education. The probably also watched to see who else gets in a little bit of a waiting game. At the moment. People are are seeing where things fall out is. You said the democratic side is going to be a scrum, but he could wait a little bit. Look, this is still were still a little bit early in the in the time frame for when you normally go out in announcer, at least the way it used to be. But people often don't get in until closer to summer. So he's. Also got some time to sit back look at the field count, his pennies and see how much something like this would cost too. That's the other side. And then decide whether to go ahead as the final note. Bill Mike Bloomberg's criticism of weary pointed criticism of our chills billionaire to billionaire little some not in a position to make. The it's it's a little self serving Rysley because he may run in his own, right? And he doesn't want any once that democratic nomination. If he goes forward and spent two billion dollars to get it to be worth as much as possible. But I do know from my own reporting in the last two election cycles presidential cycles that he looked very very closely at at running and did decide in the end that he thought he could not win. And that's why into it. Right. Well, I think that was a wise decision. I'm not sure how well Michael Bloomberg travels outside New York. But that said he's using his money on guns and so forth advances, and I think gun control gun control reasonably successfully. I mean, that's that's one thing. You can do. I don't know what Howard Schultz really cares about. If that's any of his aim. If is aim is just winning or if his aim is to say, these are things I want to talk about or I wanna see any can push the agenda that way, and he can have a big affect on the democratic. Thirty you know in the debate between sort of the Biden wing and the Bernie wing. All right Bill. Thanks, kim. Thanks. Thank you all for listening. We'll be back tomorrow with another addition Potomac watch.