Washington Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlowdowski at the 2018 Seattle Women's March, with Attorney General Bob Ferguson. 
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Washington Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlowdowski at the 2018 Seattle Women's March, with Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Democratic leader to Howard Schultz: Don't buy your way to the presidency

A Manhattan heckler had some choice words for Howard Schultz after he said he was considering a run for president.

“Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire asshole,” the man shouted at the former Starbucks CEO at a book-signing event at a Barnes and Noble.

Washington state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski wants to keep the dialogue civil, but she told KUOW’s Angela King on Morning Edition that Schultz should be challenged -- hard.

Interview Highlights

King: So would Schultz be a spoiler as an independent candidate and sink the Democrats?

Podlodowski: What we're trying to do is get the point across to Mr. Schultz about what happens with an independent bid in these kinds of cycles. Mr. Schultz has said that he is a lifelong Democrat. The number one electoral objective of Democrats in 2020 is to get Donald Trump out of the White House and make change for everyone in this country, but especially folks in the middle class, the working class, who are obviously hurting under his policies.

An independent campaign, we've seen historically, do not win and they are spoilers. We cannot afford to have that happen in the 2020 presidential election.

Schultz told NPR that the Democrats are going too far left to beat Trump. Would you still want him to run as a Democrat?

We have an opportunity in the Democratic primary to listen to a multitude of candidates and the ideas that they have for America. And that spans every idea in the Democratic big tent.

The Democratic primary process gives you a chance to air those ideas and people get a chance to vote and make their choices for whoever they want to have.

As that designated candidate what Mr. Schultz is doing is trying to bypass that process, buy his way into a presidential election, when frankly he is never really invested in the Democratic Party.

If you have great ideas, get into the primary process and see what voters see what Americans want to say about this. But don't buy your way into a presidential cycle by bypassing the primary.

Let's say Mr. Schultz takes your advice and decides against an independent run. How would he fare in a crowded Democratic primary field?

Mr. Schultz needs to listen to what folks are saying about what their concerns are. The first is health care. Even 70 percent of folks in the country are out there saying they want Medicare for all or some sort of form of either a single payer or coverage for everyone in the country. He's clearly against that.

He said that he's against "entitlements." That means earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare. He said he's against raising tax rates.

I mean those are Republican talking points. He's got a Republican strategist, Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain's presidential campaign. Maybe he actually should be on the Republican side of this if that's where he's going. But if not, boy, jump into the Democratic primary and see how that fares.