Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who has been publicly mulling an independent presidential run, offered a glimpse of what his presidency would look like should he run and win in 2020 during a speech delivered Wednesday in Miami.
The billionaire told an audience at Miami Dade College that if elected president, he would lead a government that is committed to bipartisanship and a diversity of ideas in some of its most consequential efforts, including in the creation of a Cabinet and the confirmation of Supreme Court justices. He also said he would work to reduce the executive authority granted to the presidency and work to eliminate the power of elected officials to redraw congressional district maps.
Schultz has spent much of his time criticizing Republicans and Democrats without offering many specifics about his own potential bid. His Wednesday speech served as the clearest look at what some of the most substantial proposals of a Schultz presidency would be.
In an apparent rebuke of President Donald Trump – whose presidency he called a “threat” to democracy at one point during his speech – Schultz said if elected president, he would “restore the presidency to the proper position as one of three branches of government.”
“I believe the next president needs to reduce – not expand – executive authority. We have to reverse the trend of winning by any means necessary,” he said.
At another point in his speech, Schultz took aim at the Trump administration’s use of executive authority, telling the audience that the administration has “flagrantly used a national emergency for pet projects, circumventing an entire branch of government.”
Schultz also said that as president, he would “not sign any legislation – none – into law that does not have bipartisan support.” He cited major “inspirational” legislative initiatives like welfare reform and the Civil Rights Act as being the product of bipartisan support.
“Real reform does not depend on the other side disappearing,” Schultz said. “Real reform in America requires us to come together and find common solutions that honors and preserves our democracy.”
The former CEO said if he is elected president, he also wouldn’t put a Supreme Court nominee before the Senate unless that person could be confirmed by two-thirds of the body – something that would mean bipartisan approval for nominees. Schultz added that removing “politics” from the nomination process “is a critical first step.”
President Trump’s nominees – Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – were both confirmed to the Supreme Court with less than 60 votes after a change to the Senate’s rules.
During the speech, Schultz took on gerrymandering, which he said was “a code word for rigging the system.” If elected, he said, he would “use all of the tools available to the president” to end gerrymandering and give the job of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions.
“The days of politicians selecting their voters must end and must end now,” he said.
Schultz also said that should he move into the White House, he would “assemble a Cabinet… that truly represents America in every way,” noting that it would include Democrats, Republicans and independents, as well as “a greater share of women than any previous president in history.”
And taking aim at what he saw as an inability for Trump to sit down with Democrats, the coffee connoisseur told the audience that if elected, he’ll “have members of both parties to the White House for coffee – Starbucks coffee – as often as I can.”
Later in his speech, Schultz said that if he enters the race and wins, he would work to get the federal budget “under control” and take on the nation’s debt. He said that in the coming weeks he’ll be “outlining an economic agenda for the American people.”
Last month, Schultz answered questions about a potential run at a CNN town hall in which he discussed his positions on a number of issues. Should he enter the race to challenge Trump as an independent, Schultz would also compete against a crowded field of Democratic candidates who have a range of private sector and government experience.