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Starbucks CEO on presidential election: 'What we don't need is division'

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

Starbucks (SBUX) founder, chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is considered one of the best business leaders of our generation.

But he has also been outspoken on a range of political and social issues.

He told Yahoo Finance he was disappointed with how the election has developed.

“What would we say to all of the young people in America watching the behavior of the candidates over the last few months in the presidential primary season?” he said. “Is that the kind of behavior we want to model for young children in America? We clearly have such significant, substantive problems that require civility, a high level of intellect, and what we don’t need is division and vitriol and the kind of things that would divide us.”

He added that he hopes as we get into the general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that there is a more serious focus on the issues.

“The issues of the country and the world is facing today are so serious and so fragile. And I would just hope that as we move towards the summer and the two candidates began to really square off against themselves, that there’s a higher level of respect for one another and the office of the presidency.”

In a New York Times op-ed last summer, Schultz responded to reports that were encouraging him to enter the 2015 race for president as a Democratic candidate.

“Despite the encouragement of others, I have no intention of entering the presidential fray,” he said. “I’m not done serving at Starbucks.”

Schultz has been outspoken over the years on a range of political and social issues. In 2015, he launched a “Race Together” initiative urging baristas to write the slogan on cups of coffee they served. The effort was aimed to spark a national dialogue about race in response to the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, and the related civil unrest. In 2012, he encouraged baristas in D.C.-area shops to write “come together” on customers’ cups as Congress negotiated over the fiscal cliff.

He has also taken up many social initiatives, including pledging to hire 10,000 veterans by 2018 and providing unique education assistance opportunities for employees.