'You gotta clap for that': Howard Schultz slams 'far-left' and 'far-right' in policy speech without much substance

Howard Schultz


Former Starbucks CEO and possible presidential candidate Howard Schultz.

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz repeatedly asked his audience to clap during a policy speech on Thursday at Purdue University.  
  • Twitter critics were quick to compare the move to Jeb Bush's infamous "please clap" moment during the 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Schultz, a self-described "centrist independent," has premised his possible presidential bid on the idea that Americans want "common sense," moderate policy solutions.
  • Schultz offered vague policy ideas during the speech, but didn't unveil any detailed proposals. 

Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz repeatedly asked his audience to clap during a policy speech on Thursday at Purdue University. 

In what Schultz's team billed as a "major policy speech" to promote his potential independent presidential bid, Schultz laid out a few vague proposals to reduce the national debt, lower the cost of healthcare, and restore order in Washington. 
The first request for applause from Schultz came after he mentioned that student tuition at Perdue will be lower in 2020 than it was in 2012. When the audience didn't react, Schultz added: "You gotta clap for that."

Read more: Democrats are begging Howard Schultz not to run for office - and threatening a Starbucks boycott if he does

Later in his speech, Schultz slammed President Donald Trump for refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential election. Schultz insisted - as have nearly all Democrats - that every presidential candidate should make their tax returns public.

The line garnered some applause. 

Schultz went on, "And if I choose to run, I will absolutely release my tax returns."After a beat, Schultz added, "You can clap for that." 

Twitter critics were quick to compare the move to Jeb Bush's famous "please clap" moment during his 2016 presidential campaign.



Schultz has premised his possible centrist candidacy on the idea that America needs an independent to find "common sense," moderate solutions that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. He's harshly attacked Trump as well as many prominent Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, both 2020 candidates.

"Given the choice between [Trump] and a far-left Democrat, Donald Trump would win reelection," Schultz said on Thursday.

During his roughly 15-minute speech, Schultz argued that the country's most pressing problems "aren't being solved" because "it's not in the interest of the far-left and the far-right extremes." 
Schultz said neither the Republican Party's calls to repeal Obamacare nor left-wing demands for Medicare for All are "viable." He also pointed to the failure of both major parties to address what he says are the causes of ever-growing health costs.

"The truth is that healthcare costs are the biggest driver of unaffordable care," he said. "Yet neither side has developed, let alone offered, a credible plan to reduce costs by increasing competition. Or requiring more transparency on prices from hospitals and drug companies. Or investing in preventive care." 

Besides these broad suggestions, Schultz offered no concrete healthcare policy ideas. 

While Schultz has received significant media attention, there doesn't appear to be much early public support for his potential run.

A survey from data science firm Optimus, released on Thursday, found that of those familiar with Schultz, 18% have a favorable opinion, while 40% have an unfavorable opinion. The poll also found that Schultz's independent bid would siphon off enough Democratic voters to boost Trump's chances of reelection.  And a recent Change Research poll found even more dismal results: 40% of respondents said they viewed Schultz unfavorably, while just 4% said they viewed him favorably.