Potential 2020 contender and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is apologizing for comments he made suggesting that he's spent "more time in the last decade" with the military than any candidate running for president — despite the fact that the Democratic field includes two veterans.
During an appearance on conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt's radio show Wednesday, Schultz was asked if he considered himself competent to run the U.S. military if he were ever elected commander in chief.
"Yes, I do. I probably have spent more time in the last decade certainly than anyone running for president with the military. I've given, I've been to Okinawa. I've been to Kuwait ... with Marines, with the Army. I've been to the national training center in Mojave Desert," said Schultz.
He then touted his friendships with Admiral William McRaven, who served as the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, and General Stanley McChrystal, once the top U.S. military officer in Afghanistan.
"But the deep respect I have for the military, and it goes beyond what I can even describe in words," added Schultz.
Schultz, who has been mulling an independent run for the presidency, was criticized for his comments by Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and an active member of the Navy Reserve. "I remember Green Beans Coffee at the exchange at Bagram, and a decent espresso machine run by the Italian NATO element at ISAF HQ. But I don't recall seeing any Starbucks over there..." Buttigieg tweeted Thursday.
Schultz later apologized for his bungled remarks, tweeting "Yesterday I gave a speech on failed political leadership in this country. A point I tried to make is that leaders must take responsibility and own their mistakes. Today I said I spent more time with the military than any candidate running for president. That was wrong."
He also directed an apology to both Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic candidate who served with the Army in Iraq. "In that moment I made something that should unite us all, about me. I made a mistake and I apologize," Schultz tweeted.
Schultz, a billionaire centrist, has claimed thatcould alienate much of the country and help to re-elect President Trump in 2020.
Ben Mitchell contributed to this report.