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Howard Schultz says a far-left Democrat could re-elect Trump

Schultz: "I think I can beat the system"

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for president, said a far-left Democrat could alienate much of the country and help to re-elect President Trump. He pushed back against the common Democratic complaint that he would act as a spoiler if he entered the race.

"I really believe the spoiler in all of this is going to be a far-left Democratic candidate, if that's who gets the nomination, who is walking the shoes of a socialist," Schultz said in an interview on Friday. He said "lifelong Republicans who do not want to pull the lever for Donald Trump are not gonna pull the lever for someone" who promotes socialist policies.

Schultz called out Elizabeth Warren in particular, who on Friday introduced a proposal to break up big social media companies due to concerns about privacy and the proliferation of hate speech online.

"What we're seeing right now is Democratic candidates [who] in order to stay relevant and to stay in the news basically issue a press release or a tweet that they all know is not possible. It's fantasy," Schultz said. "We need to discuss with the leaders of those companies, their responsibility to the American people, responsibility about privacy issues and have a conversation based on civility."

Schultz also addressed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision not to run in the Democratic primary. Bloomberg, who was formerly an independent, has expressed concern that an independent candidate could help re-elect Mr. Trump.

Schultz said he thinks it's "interesting" that Bloomberg decided not to proceed -- "someone who has been a great business person, a great mayor, who could not crack the code of how his position could be perceived positively in a Democratic party that is moving so far to the left." He also said he would "welcome" former Vice President Joe Biden, who is considered more of a centrist, into the race.

Schultz is appearing at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, this weekend.