AP: 8ce2c9f6-20e9-4a5e-8ae5-4c297a4a7964
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz changed how Americans drink coffee, now he's trying to change American politics. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Howard Schultz changed coffee, now he wants to change politics

He's changed how Americans drink coffee, now he's trying to change American politics.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz held a national telephone and webcast town hall on Tuesday.

It was the latest in his public outcry over how things are being done in D.C.

The event kicked off with an auto-tuned rap about ending partisan politics. Then things were turned over to moderator and Newsweek columnist John Avlon.

"I want to welcome everyone to a Conversation with America, a pretty extraordinary event tonight, hosted by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his new group Upward Spiral," said Avalon. "Tonight we're going to be taking your questions about, I think, an exciting new movement to try to change the culture of hyper partisanship in Washington D.C."

But before taking questions Howard Schultz explained what prompted his high-profile campaign to change American politics.

"I think for me I've got to go back to my childhood. I grew up in Brooklyn, on the other side of the tracks, in federally subsidized housing, and I am absolutely the beneficiary of the American Dream, and watching the debt debacle [...] I just had to ask myself is it right to continue to be a bystander when you know in your heart and in your conscience, something is seriously wrong?"

Never once referring to notes Schultz railed on bickering in Washington.

"I think the fracturing of humanity, of the country, is what we're witnessing," said Schultz.

Watch the full town hall webcast:


Video streaming by Ustream

Schultz continued speaking to what he called the most important thing in America today: People finding a job.

"Somehow it gets down to reducing it to the lowest common denominator."

Schultz said the town hall was a chance to give concerned citizens a voice, and he took questions from several, people, like this college student from Kansas City.

Student: With such few job opportunities what can college students like myself expect in the future to get employed when we graduate?

Schultz: I don't want to sugarcoat an answer to you. I think this is probably one of the most challenging times in our history for young people to be coming out of college trying to find a job. What that would mean to me is during your college years to do everything you possibly can inside and outside the classroom to prepare yourself, to distinguish yourself, and to separate yourself from others.

And while the teleconference took place because of his disappointment with how things are being handled in Washington D.C. a lot of Schultz's comments were directed at U.S. citizens, saying they could no longer sit back and watch the country fall apart.

"We just have not heard from them. And that's why I think this movement is so important. That is for people in America to realize that their voice needs to be heard," Schultz said. "We're going to need Americans to understand what is at stake. It's not Republican, it's not Democrat, once and for all it's about America."

Schultz has faced criticism since urging fellow CEO's last month to withhold campaign contributions until they agreed on a debt deal to turn around the economy. But his movement has built steam, and so far nearly 17,000 people have made that pledge via his Upward Spiral campaign.


Brandi Kruse, KIRO Radio Reporter
Brandi Kruse is a reporter for KIRO Radio who is as spontaneous and adventurous in her free time as she is on the job. Brandi arrived at KIRO Radio in March 2011 and has already collected three regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
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