Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, in an interview with Fox News, said Thursday that Democrats would be at risk of playing a “spoiler” role if they nominate a socialist-aligned candidate to challenge President Trump — as he tries to turn the tables on criticism from the left that he could ruin the party’s 2020 hopes should he run for president as an independent.
The billionaire businessman pointedly pushed back on claims that an independent bid would amount to a spoiler candidacy handing Trump a second term, arguing that voters are looking for a centrist candidate who can bridge the political divide.
“If you want to talk about spoiler, if the Democrats decide in their wisdom to nominate a far-left person who is professing policies … of a socialist — that will be a spoiler,” Schultz said
Schultz, who said in January that he is mulling an independent presidential run, has sought to position himself as a centrist alternative to Trump’s controversial policies and the Democrats’ leftward drift. Some Democratic pollsters and analysts have raised concerns over how a candidate like self-proclaimed democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or others who have supported big-government policies like the Green New Deal would fare in winning over moderate voters.
Matt Bennett, vice president of Third Way, a center-left think tank, says this “could be trouble” if Democrats aren’t offering a vision of the country that speaks to ordinary voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“The risk is that the eventual nominee goes too far during this primary process and becomes hard to support for a lot of people who might be interested in getting rid of Trump,” he said.
Schultz has sought to position himself as a moderate foil to both parties’ current brand of politics.
“The American people need to hear a lot of voices,” Schultz said. “The two-party system is not working for the American people.”