Business

Warren Buffett: It would be a 'real mistake' for Schultz to run for president

Posted February 25, 2019 11:44 a.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2019 11:55 a.m. EST

— Warren Buffett already knows which billionaire he likes for president.

Buffett said he would get behind former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who hasn't declared yet that he's running for office in 2020.

But he's not keen to support billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who also hasn't declared, but has said he's considering running as a centrist independent.

Buffett said during a CNBC interview on Monday that if Bloomberg gets into the Democratic primary, as he is thinking about doing, he would support him.

"I think he would be a very good president," Buffett said. "He and I disagree on some things. But I think that he knows how to run things."

Buffett holds some relatively liberal points of view, including advocating for higher taxes on the rich. But he's also a strong advocate for allowing the market to function freely. He said he believes Bloomberg, who was elected as a Republican in New York but is now a Democrat, has the right priorities.

"I think he's got the right goals for America. He understands people. He understands the market system. He understands the problems of people at the low end ... I would have no trouble being for him."

Not so for Schultz.

Buffett didn't address any of Schultz's qualifications or his views on issues, but said he believes that Schultz would hurt the Democratic nominee if he ran as an independent. He said that would be a "real mistake."

"I think generally third party candidates are going to hurt one side or the other and I think they're more likely to hurt the side that they favor because they're closer to that view," Buffett said. "I hope no third party candidate runs that pulls any significant amount of votes. I think third party candidates can thwart the will of the people."

Buffett said he has voted for more Democrats than Republicans over the last 30 years.

But he's not a card-carrying Democrat, and he identifies as an independent. He said he was an officer in the Young Republicans club as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. The only time he's ever run for an office was to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1960, he added.

Even in recent years he said he's voted for, and given money to, Republican candidates.

"I don't think either side has an edge in virtue," Buffett said.