Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz warned at SXSW that Donald Trump might win again if he competes with a progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says that Donald Trump might win again if he runs against someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders.
  • That’s because “the vast majority of Americans are not going to embrace socialism,” he said during a keynote presentation at SXSW on Saturday.
  • He added that it appears to him that the Democratic Party has decided that the way to beat Donald Trump is socialism.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz warned that the chances of Donald Trump getting re-elected were very real.

That could be a possibility if he ended up running against someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, “or one of those types” on the Democratic side, he said.

“The vast majority of Americans are not going to embrace socialism,” he said during a keynote presentation at SXSW on Saturday, adding that it appeared to him that the Democratic Party had decided that the way to beat Donald Trump was socialism.

“I have a right to disagree with what they’re [The Democrats] proposing,” he said. “A free enterprise system is core to our democracy” and to start moving toward socialism is against that principle.

Schultz said that as an independent candidate, his intention wasn’t to run against any party. Instead, he wanted to run to fix the broken two-party system.

“I’m not running against the democrats, I’m running because the two-party system is broken, dysfunctional and in need of great repair,” he said.

Shultz added that the “litmus test” of the fact that the Democrats had veered too far in the direction of socialism was the fact that even former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was considering running as an independent.

He also slammed the critics questioning him considering a run for President, saying that he wasn’t going to let the “pundits” and “cynics” tell him what’s possible and what’s not.

“How many entrepreneurs in this room have been told your dream isn’t going to come true?” he asked, prompting a round of applause from the audience. He said that while building Starbucks into a successful business may not a proxy for running the country, it was a proxy for the leadership that he would bring to the table.

When asked to define socialism by a member of the audience, he said “Just look at Venezuela.”

“We don’t want a government takeover of our lives, we want the freedom to pursue happiness in America,” he said.

When moderator and NBC News journalist Dylan Byers pointed out that he didn’t have a great campaign slogan along the lines of a “Yes We Can” or a “Make America Great Agian,” he said that he hadn’t yet officially announced that he was running for President, and that when he did, he would come armed with a differentiated brand.

“Over the course of the last 40 years, I know a little bit about building a brand,” he said.