Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz appears to believe he could perform well in a presidential race with voters turned off by President Trump and those fearful that the Democratic Party is moving too far left. But the independent candidate recently told The Washington Post he would reconsider his quest if a more moderate Democrat, like former vice president Joe Biden or former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, got the party’s nomination.
“I would reassess the situation if the numbers change as a result of a centrist Democrat winning the nomination,” he said regarding internal polling suggesting he would be competitive in a three-way race against President Trump and a liberal Democratic candidate.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) might be able to change those numbers.
While Schultz believes he has ideas and solutions to the problems concerning moderate voters, Klobuchar has actually been able to communicate them when asked, in addition to having a policy record on many of these topics, winning her support from both sides of the aisle.
During a CNN town hall Monday, she put some meat on the bones of ideas that are popular — or at least of interest — to left-leaning voters.
On education, Klobuchar — like Schultz — has backed away from promising free four-year college for all, but she wants to make community college free and has shared other ideas about college affordability.
On health care, she is open to “Medicare-for-all” in the future, but is not committed to the idea immediately and instead is looking at solutions to the high costs of health care.
On climate change, she did not directly embrace the Green New Deal immediately, but she called it “aspirational” and promised to make immediate changes related to the Paris climate agreement if elected.
Schultz did not fare as well when asked to address similar issues at his town hall and has not done much to answer lingering questions since.
Though running as an independent, Schultz is counting on winning over centrist Democratic voters as well as independents to come out on top in a general election. But as a political novice, he has no track record of winning races, and nearly 45 percent of Americans in a CNN poll said they are unlikely to support his presidential run.
The billionaire is right that there are voters who are looking for a third way; he just might not be the person to lead that path. But the pragmatic Klobuchar could. Her stances appear to be rooted in acknowledging a Democratic electorate interested in big ideas but recognizing that some proposals might be too radical to win over independents who backed Trump in 2016.
As a member of the Democratic Party, Klobuchar already has an advantage with Democrats who are not interested in taking on Republicans while fending off independents like Schultz. And as a woman, she would be a continuation of the direction Democratic voters showed in the midterm election that they wanted the party to go: one that does a better job of reflecting the diversity of the country.
Most people can understand Schultz’s desire to get Trump out of the Oval Office; large percentages of Americans share this goal. But the individual best equipped to do that at this present time might be a woman from the Midwest known for advocating for policies that work for multiple groups — and not another man from a major coastal city who spent his professional life making billions in the business world.