CNN’s Harlow Pressures Schultz: 'Commit' to Drop Out If You're a Spoiler

In the midst of CNN’s Tuesday town hall with prospective independent presidential candidate and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, moderator Poppy seemed to get a bit annoyed at her guest when he appeared unwilling to “commit” to dropping out of the race in the event he would spoil the election for Democrats in the fall of 2020.

The question about leaving the race first came up via a Rice University student who wasn’t a fan of the two-party system. After Schultz explained how he felt he could get broad support from the electorate, and refused to run as a Democrat (a question from Harlow), Harlow began grilling him about at what point he would drop out of the race (click “expand” to read):

POPPY HARLOW: So that point, you have said and you just repeated it, that you promise that you will not be a spoiler. That you will not run. That you will not continue running if it would mean a second term for President Trump.

HOWARD SCHULTZ: Okay.

HARLOW: If you run, Mr. Schultz, and if you look at the polls in the fall of 2020 and it looks like you are going to be a spoiler, like you will get President Trump re-elected, will you drop off the race?

SCHULTZ: Okay, a very important question, so let's clarify this right now, right here, on national TV, on CNN. First off, the issue of being a spoiler, how can you spoil a system that is already broken?

Schultz’s response was not good enough for Harlow, so she attempted to pressure him into promising to drop out at some point. “But Mr. Schultz, the fall of 2020 is what I was asking about. If you do run and the numbers don't add up your way and it looks like it would mean a second term to the President, would you commit to dropping out,” she demanded to know.

 

 

Shortly before that interrogation, Harlow wanted to know if Schultz planned to release his tax returns and took a swipe at Trump (click “expand” to read):

HARLOW: You said on 60 Minutes, Mr. Schultz, that you would release your tax returns today. Will you commit to releasing your tax returns this week?

SCHULTZ: Well, I'm not yet decided to run for president, but if I decide to run for president, I 100 percent will release my taxes and be completely transparent.

HARLOW: And here's why I ask, because I remember, we all remember May 2014 when now President Trump was mulling a bid for the White House and he said exactly the same thing.

SCHULTZ: Yeah, but I think President Trump, unfortunately, has a habit of not being truthful.

 

On a lighter note, during the A-block of the Town Hall, Schultz ripped into the Green New Deal for being unrealistic:

But when I read the proposed bill in terms of the Green New Deal, and I read that by 2030, they're suggesting that every building in America becomes clean energy, conforms to clean energy. Just to put that in perspective, because it's not realistic, that would mean that between 2,000 and 3,000 buildings a day would have to be reconstructed to conform to what they're saying. And so let's be sensible about what we're suggesting.

Out of the 27 questions asked by Harlow and the crowd, only one of them came from a solidly conservative position. It was about Schultz’s support for taking away AR-style rifles from law-abiding citizens.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN Town Hall: Howard Schultz
February 12, 2019
10:12:58 p.m. Eastern

(…)

JOEL PHILLIPS: Hello. So my question is, as a lifelong Houstonian, I've seen the damages that hurricanes have caused to my city and I've watched as Harvey continued in a devastating way that damage. So in the face of a warming climate that leads to more powerful storms, how much of a priority would climate change be to your administration and what are some plans you have to tackle that issue.

HOWARD SCHULTZ: Thank you for the question. I think the concern that you have, I share at the highest level. I came here to Houston during hurricane Harvey. I went to New Orleans during Katrina. And I've seen for myself what is happening in this country and around the world.

But let's maybe bring up the topic of the day, which is the Green New Deal. I read with great interest what they were suggesting. And I think these are well-intentioned people, and like me, are gravely concerned about our planet, climate change, and the things that we have to do. So the first answer to the question is, this would be a top priority. But we have to be sensible about it.

So here we are in Texas, where oil and gas is a primary product of this entire state. But yet you lead the nation in wind energy. So it's not an either/or situation. We can do both. But when I read the proposed bill in terms of the Green New Deal, and I read that by 2030, they're suggesting that every building in America becomes clean energy, conforms to clean energy. Just to put that in perspective, because it's not realistic, that would mean that between 2,000 and 3,000 buildings a day would have to be reconstructed to conform to what they're saying.

And so let's be sensible about what we're suggesting. Let's not just throw stuff against the wall, because it's a good slogan or we get a press release. Let's be truthful. And if there's one thing that I'm trying to do tonight, more than anything else, is tell you what I believe, tell you what I believe is true, and speak to you from my heart from someone who loves the country, who has benefited tremendously, from the promise of the country, and wants to see that continue. But when I see politicians start throwing things out that I know is not realistic, that is not being honest with the American people.

POPPY HARLOW: Mr. Schultz on -- on the Green New Deal, it includes a federal jobs guarantee.

SCHULTZ: Yeah?

HARLOW: Are you supportive of that? And you mentioned Democrats throwing up slogans. A number of 2020 contenders support the Green New Deal. It's proposed by Senator Markey and congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, do you think they are being disingenuous with the American people?

SCHULTZ: When I read the Green New Deal and I try to understand what they're suggesting, I don't understand how you're going to give a job for everybody, how you're going to give free college to everybody, how you're going to create clean energy throughout the country in every building of the land, and then tally this thing up with $32 trillion on Medicare for all, that's about $40 trillion, plus.

We are sitting, ladies and gentlemen, with $22 trillion of debt on the balance sheet of America. So once again, not that I'm a business person or I'm an economist. And maybe an economist would disagree with me, but I think it's immoral to suggest that we can tally up 20, 30, 40, $50 trillion of debt to solve a problem that could be solved in a different way. It's not that they’re disingenuous. I think they're well intentioned. This is not personal. I just don't agree this is the right way to approach things.

(…)

10:21:15 p.m. Eastern

HARLOW: You said on 60 Minutes, Mr. Schultz, that you would release your tax returns today. Will you commit to releasing your tax returns this week?

SCHULTZ: Well, I'm not yet decided to run for president, but if I decide to run for president, I 100 percent will release my taxes and be completely transparent.

HARLOW: And here's why I ask, because I remember, we all remember May 2014 when now President Trump was mulling a bid for the White House and he said exactly the same thing.

SCHULTZ: Yeah, but I think President Trump, unfortunately, has a habit of not being truthful.

(…)

10:29:43 p.m. Eastern

SCHULTZ: I'm here not saying I'm against the Democratic Party. I'm here saying I no longer recognize how far left they've gone. I just don't see myself in the party. And I believe that the majority of Americans feel like I do, the far-right and the far-left does not represent them and they're looking for a home. I also think millions of Republicans, millions of Republicans who do not want to pull the lever for Donald Trump, if they have a better choice versus a far-left Democrat, will come my way.

HARLOW: So let's dig into this a little bit.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

HARLOW: Yes or no, is there any world in which you run as a Democrat?

SCHULTZ: No.

HARLOW: Ok, there you go.

SCHULTZ: I didn't even have to think about that. And I have nothing against the Democratic Party, I just don't feel represented.

HARLOW: So that point, you have said and you just repeated it, that you promise that you will not be a spoiler. That you will not run. That you will not continue running if it would mean a second term for President Trump.

SCHULTZ: Okay.

HARLOW: If you run, Mr. Schultz, and if you look at the polls in the fall of 2020 and it looks like you are going to be a spoiler, like you will get President Trump re-elected, will you drop off the race?

SCHULTZ: Okay, a very important question, so let's clarify this right now, right here, on national TV, on CNN. First off, the issue of being a spoiler, how can you spoil a system that is already broken?

(…)

HARLOW: But Mr. Schultz, the fall of 2020 is what I was asking about. If you do run and the numbers don't add up your way and it looks like it would mean a second term to the President, would you commit to dropping out?

SCHULTZ: What I've just said is, I'm not going to run for president if it looks in anyway shape or form--

HARLOW: But look at 2016, things change.

(…)

11:02:11 p.m. Eastern

KEVIN MCMACHEN: Mr. Schultz, you’ve expressed that you are in favor of taking “guns of war” out of American people’s neighborhoods, assuming that you are referring to assault style weapons, can you explain your motivation with this initiative considering that less than 4 percent of firearm murders, according to FBI statistics, are caused by rifles and other similar weapons? How is removing assault style weapons going to benefit the greater good of the country?

(…)

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