By Deena Zaru
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz said in an interview Tuesday that he is not running for president in 2020.
“No, I’m not,” Schultz responded when asked by Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, adding that he is trying to work toward improving the US as a private citizen.
Asked to clarify whether that means he is not going to run for president, Schultz said: “I said that I am doing everything I possibly can as a private citizen to advance the cause of the country.”
Bartiromo followed up with: “It sounds like you’re running for president, Howard.”
He responded: “No, I didn’t say that, come on Maria.”
Schultz’s comments come amid growing speculation that the billionaire mogul, who stepped down as CEO of the coffee giant in 2017 and is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, is considering a career in politics.
Schultz has been one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal critics in the business world, speaking out against the Trump administration’s policies — from climate change and immigration to taxes and the economy.
“We are robbing from the future of young people in America who ultimately are going to have to pay for a $21 trillion tax deficit,” Schultz said in the interview on Tuesday, slamming the Republican tax plan.
According to Schultz, Starbucks received about a $500 million benefit from the tax overhaul, which reduced the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%.
But Schultz renewed his criticism that Congress “missed an opportunity” to reform the tax system.
“I personally did not believe that America needed a 21% corporate tax cut,” Schultz said. “But, as a result of that, we gave a significant part of that tax benefit back to our people on top of what we had already done over the last couple of years. I think we are one of the few companies in America that recognize that in order to really benefit from the tax cut we had to share our success with our people.”
In response to the Trump administration’s travel ban, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022 — a move which prompted boycotts from some on the right.
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