Howard Schultz takes questions at CNN town hall

By Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 12:27 a.m. ET, February 13, 2019
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10:40 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz says the Green New Deal is "not realistic," "immoral"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Tuesday that the Green New Deal, a sweeping climate change and economic overhaul plan proposed by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, is “not realistic" and "immoral."

The comment puts Schultz, who is thinking about running for president as an independent in 2020, at odds with a host of Democratic candidates who said they would support the plan despite its sweeping impacts.

Schultz suggested during the CNN town hall that while those proposing the plans were not “disingenuous,” they were rolling out the plan because it sounds good.

“Let’s be sensible about what we are suggesting,” he said. “Let’s not just throw things against the wall because it’s a good slogan or a good press release.”

Schultz also suggested that the plan was unaffordable:

“I think it is immoral to suggest that we can tally up 20, 30, 40, 50 trillion in debt to solve a problem that can be solved In a different way."

Watch more below:

10:30 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz pledges to release his taxes — if he actually chooses to run for president

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, speaking at CNN's town hall tonight, promised to release his taxes -- if he decides to run for president.

"Well, I'm not yet decided to run for president, but if I decide to run for president, I 100% will release my taxes and be completely transparent," he said.

Schultz then took a jab at President Trump for failing to follow through on his campaign promise to release his taxes.

"Yeah, but I think President trump, unfortunately, has a habit of not being truthful," he said.

Schultz then rose his hand and vowed to release his taxes.

10:31 p.m. ET, February 12, 2019

Schultz asked anyone who thinks the government is doing well to raise their hand. Nobody did.

Howard Schultz had a question for the audience: Does anyone think that the United States government is doing well for you and your family, or for the country and the American people?

"Raise your hand if you think the government is doing well for you," he demanded.

No one did. 

"That is why I'm here!" Schultz proclaimed. "And I've got good news for you. We can fix it! We can fix it! But we can't fix it under a broken system where the far left and the far right are more engaged every single day and more interested in self-preservation, self-interests, and not representing you."

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: