Howard Schultz Gets Heated in Contentious MSNBC Interview: Can I Answer Without Being Interrupted?

Former Starbucks CEO and potential 2020 candidate Howard Schultz appeared on MSNBC today following his Fox News town hall and got into a contentious back and forth with Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle.

Schultz talked about the debt and deficit and said he considers this a moral issue because of how it impacts the American people.

At one point Velshi told him, “A lot of Americans knew this a long time before you really rich guys started talking about how bifurcated America is, and that’s where we are today. So do you get why some people don’t think you’ve got all the answers?” (By “you,” Velshi made it clear he meant “you rich guys.”)

“I’m self-made and I built a company that employed over 3 million people the last 40 years,” Schultz responded, “and gave health care, ownership, and free college tuition to every employee.”

Schultz said America has a massive debt, a health care crisis, and more because both parties are “unwilling to work together.”

“If that’s true, why is Britain bifurcated? Why is France bifurcated? Why is Germany bifurcated? Why were the Arab countries bifurcated?” Velshi shot back. “It’s not actually about Democrats and Republican. It’s about rich people who don’t pay taxes, who don’t understand that it’s not about charity. It’s actually about wealth distribution.”

Schultz again said he’s talking about “a lack of leadership and understanding” from elected officials about their fiscal responsibility.

“You’re saying that the reason that we’re economically bifurcated is because of Republican and Democrat policies and I’m telling you it’s a global issue of wealth concentration, not actually about political disagreement on policies,” Velshi said.

“How many people in America have the wealth of bottom half of society?” he asked. “How many rich people in the world have the same wealth as the bottom 3 1/2 billion in society?”

“I didn’t create that policies that we are now under,” Schultz fired back. “I’m here to tell you that I am looking at the current situation economically in this country and if you want to solve the problems, you have to have the kind of leadership that cooperates with one another and is not steeped in ideology.”

“Should we be spending less than we’re taking in?” he asked.

“It’s not a yes or no,” Velshi responded.

“It is a yes or no question!” Schultz said.

As they kept going back and forth, Velshi said, “We have to understand what we’re spending.”

“You don’t want to answer the question!” Schultz said.

“No, I’m actually answering it in a nuanced way that doesn’t suggest there is a simple answer to these complicated questions that plague the world,” Velshi responded.

“In all fairness, it’s not complicated to me when we have such a robust economy and we’re spending much more than we’re taking in and why? Because the Democrats and Republicans and this president are not doing what they need to do to reduce this national debt that we have,” Schultz said.

Ruhle brought up about the politics of the issue, saying, “Let’s say you end up in Washington. you could end up in President Obama’s position where Mitch McConnell said, ‘Thanks for playing, I’m about to block you on everything.’ So you don’t have the expertise or the experience.”

“Where is your path to win and to govern?” she asked. “There is a process and you’re outside of it.”

“Am I going to be allowed to answer this question without being interrupted? Okay, thank you,’ Schultz said, before continuing:

“First and foremost. In the last 30+ years, only eight to ten battleground states have decided the presidential election. If I enter the race, over 40 states for the first time in 30+ years will have an opportunity in which your Republican or Democratic vote in a red or blue state will really matter. That changes everything. So there is a path to 270. And it’s real… because not only of the math, because the country is so divided, fed up, exhausted, and disgusted by our political system, and that’s a fact… Second thing is now, for the first time since George Washington, if an independent person, if I run and am fortunate enough to get to the White House, can you imagine the historic mandate for the first time in over 200 plus years––we don’t want a Democrat, we don’t want a Republican, we want an independent with common-sense solutions and leadership skills who has built a global enterprise in 77 countries, understands the world, Russia, China, Syria, the Middle East, this whole aspect and has proven you can build a company and reward your people at the same time? So what do I believe? The American people are going to say to all the Republicans and all the Democrats if you don’t work with this independent person who’s running for president, we’re going to fire you.”

You can watch above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac