- AP/Elaine Thompson
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
“Hopefully Hillary Clinton will be elected president,” Schultz told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in aFacebook Live interview.
Schultz has long been outspoken about his political and social views, but this is the first time he has weighed in on the 2016 presidential race.
“I think it’s obvious that Hillary Clinton needs to be the next president,” Schultz said in an interview with Harlow at CNN Money’s American Opportunity breakfast on Wednesday. “On the other side, we’ve seen such vitriolic display of bigotry and hate and divisiveness, and that is not the leadership we need for the future of the country.”
Schultz went on to say that backing Clinton was not “a perfect situation, but I think it’s the right choice.”
Rumors surfaced last year that Schultz himself was considering a campaign for the White House.
He put an end to the speculation with an op-ed in the New York Times last August announcing that he wouldn’t run. However, on Wednesday, he hinted that politics may be in his future.
“My own life experience has given me a unique perspective on the plight of working-class American people,” he said. “I’m a young man, who has a lot of time in the future… I would never say never – but this is not the right time.”
Schultz had landed in hot water earlier in the year after he encouraged baristas to talk about race relations with customers and write “race together” on the coffee chain’s cups.
The campaign suffered a public backlash from the start, with critics accusing the company of using racial tension to sell coffee. The vitriol was so strong that it caused a senior Starbucks executive to temporarily suspend his Twitter account.
The company eventually abandoned the campaign, with Schultz saying on Wednesday that Race Together was suspended due to safety concerns in certain cities.
Schultz acknowledged his critics in his remarks to employees earlier this year, saying, “I have been criticized because people say ‘Well his role is to create shareholder value and profits, not to use Starbucks as a political tool.'”
But he said he can’t sit quiet through the presidential election.
“I worry if we just continue on this track and don’t speak up,” he said. “I’m asking myself what can we do, given our scale… to effect change, to elevate the discourse, and to demonstrate that this is not the way the country should be run.”
Schultz supported President Obama in the 2012 election.