Billionaire and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been making stops around North Texas.
Schultz spoke at SMU Tuesday afternoon. His visit came as he considers a presidential run as an independent.
Schultz began by touring the Adaptive Training Foundation in Carrollton. It was the first stretch of a Texas tour as he mulls a run for president. The non-profit trains people for adaptive sports. It includes many veterans, who raised issues about the VA during a town hall discussion with Schultz.
Schultz told the audience if elected president, the VA would personally report to him.
“I think the president of the United States needs to be personally responsible for the results and outcome of the VA, and that is not the case,” he said.
Schultz is still coming up with policies and still hasn't decided whether to run.
According to SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson, the former Starbucks CEO would have a sizable task ahead.
“What he also needs is to have a campaign apparatus that is working to get him on the ballot in all 50 states,” Jillson said. “If that doesn't happen, he's got no chance.”
But perhaps making a run more appealing is changing voter demographics in Texas.
After a narrow victory by Senator Ted Cruz over Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Quinnipiac poll showed President Donald Trump in a dead heat with three potential Democratic opponents.
It’s proof Texas might not be so reliably Republican.
Schultz says he sees a path to defeat Mr. Trump.
“I don't think President Trump can be elected if he doesn't win the state of Texas,” he said. “And if you think back to 1976, it's been a long time since if you were a Democrat your voice or vote mattered.”
But many Democrats have criticized Schultz, saying his candidacy could split the Democratic vote and clear the path for President Trump’s reelection.
Jillson says, at least in Texas, it's too early to say.
“It's very hard to tell because you've got people on the Republican side very worried about Trump who might look for somebody else,” he said. “You have disappointed Democrats who say Bernie gets closed out again and might look at Schultz. From this point, you just can't tell.”