‘I Should Be Paying More Taxes.’ 5 Takeaways From Howard Schultz’s CNN Town Hall

February 13, 2019, 5:57 PM UTC

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has not announced his candidacy for president, but his Tuesday night CNN town hall gave a glimpse of what his 2020 campaign could look like.

Here’s what Schultz said.

1. Schultz, once a Democrat, appears to be rejecting ideologies from both political parties, making reference to the “extreme left” and “extreme right.”

When he was asked about his position on guns, Schultz said “the far right once again does not want to do anything in the issue,” while “the far left wants to do everything possible to remove guns completely.” Schultz said on the gun issue he’s “in the middle.”

He made a similar reference to extreme ends of the two major political parties when asked how he would fix the healthcare system, responding, “this gives me another opportunity to talk about the extreme left and the extreme right.” But after explaining the healthcare system is “in a crisis on many levels,” Schultz neglected to give specifics about how he would fix the problems.

Schultz, who is widely expected to run as an independent, has been accused of potentially taking votes from the eventual Democratic presidential nominee, thus handing the presidency back to Republican President Donald Trump.

2. At the town hall, Schultz noted he would not run if the “math doesn’t tally up” because he will “not do anything, whatsoever, to re-elect Donald.”

But Schultz contested being called an election spoiler, remarking, “how can you spoil a system that is already broken?”

3. Schultz made clear he isn’t a fan of the 70% tax rate proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but did acknowledge the richest Americans, including himself, should pay more in taxes.

However, Schultz did not provide details about how much of a tax increase the wealthiest should face.

“The headline is here,” Schultz said. “I should be paying more taxes. And people who make this kind of revenue, and are of means, should pay more taxes.”

4. If Schultz decides to run“>, he’s not sure whether he would sell his Starbucks stock.

Schultz only said he would “do nothing whatsoever to have any conflict of interest between my investments overall or my interests in the company that I love because I will put the role and responsibility and the accountability for results first.”

5. Finally, Schultz, who has overseen the growth of a multi-billion dollar company, does not believe that’s what makes him a worthy presidential candidate.

Business experience “is not qualifications to run for president,” Schultz said, “but it is what I’ve learned along the way.”

“I think my qualification is my life experience,” he added.