Starbucks billionaire and presidential aspirant Howard Schultz says he wishes Americans would stop using the term “billionaire” to describe people like himself.
“The moniker ‘billionaire’ now has become the catch phrase, I would rephrase that and I would say that people of means have been able to leverage their wealth and their interests in ways that are unfair,” Schultz told CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin at a book talk Wednesday.
“And I think that speaks to the inequality but it also directly speaks to the special interests that are paid for by people of wealth and corporations who are looking for influence — and they have such unbelievable influence on the politicians,” he added. “If I should run for president, I am not in bed with any party. I am not in bed with any special interest. All I am trying to do is one thing: walk in the shoes of the American people.”
Schultz’s plea to be viewed as more than just a billionaire came in response to a question about the undue influence of America’s monied population during book discussion about his new work “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” which hit shelves around the same time he began floating his presidential ambitions.
Reps for Schultz did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.
While Schultz has offered himself as a third party alternative to Trump and a potentially far left Democratic nominee, it remains unclear whether there is any real popular support for his brand of billionaire-directed centrism. A change research poll from Friday shows that Schultz holds just four percent favorability among the Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
While some Fox News anchors have found kind words for him, most Democrats have said a Schultz run would only siphon votes away from the eventual Democratic nominee and help reelect Trump. Since announcing his possible run, the billionaire has been met with jeers and heckles at his public events and his newly established Twitter account has been mobbed by angry commenters.
Schultz is a co-founder of the venture capital firm Maveron, which is an investor in TheWrap.