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Coffee clash: Schultz slammed by fellow java magnate

“Of course a billionaire would complain about a tax on billionaires, but it doesn’t mean it’s good policy for America,” Todd Carmichael, La Colombe Coffee Roasters CEO, told POLITICO. | Matt Rourke/AP Photo

2020 Elections

The chief of La Colombe, an Elizabeth Warren backer, says the ex-Starbucks is bigwig ‘out of his depth.’

Howard Schultz has a problem with his base.

Not only are Democrats ripping the former Starbucks CEO’s flirtation with an independent bid for president — now a fellow coffee mogul is, too.

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“I first met Howard in 1984 and he’s done a lot for coffee, but right now he’s out of his depth on a vanity run for the presidency,” Todd Carmichael, the millionaire co-founder of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, told POLITICO. “Of course a billionaire would complain about a tax on billionaires, but it doesn’t mean it’s good policy for America.”

Earlier this month, Carmichael endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose plan to tax the megawealthy has been lambasted as “ridiculous” by Schultz. Carmichael met Warren last year at a fundraiser he hosted in Philadelphia for female congressional candidates, and the two stayed in touch.

They have spoken in recent weeks, and Carmichael has offered himself up to Warren as a potential surrogate: He said he’d argue on the campaign trail that her progressive economic policies would not only not harm businesses like his, but would actually help them.

“I am not afraid to say that I want to be taxed more,” he said. “I want better schools. I want people to have better access to health care.”

Carmichael, whose coffee shops are in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and other cities, is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.

In late November, he wrote an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer titled, “CEOs don’t make good presidents. I know because I am one.” Afterward, he said, Warren called and left him a lengthy voicemail.

Carmichael also said the Massachusetts senator wrote him a letter by hand after the September fundraiser for now-Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon and Susan Wild, which took at place La Colombe’s flagship cafe in Philadelphia. Warren headlined the event.

Carmichael’s swipe at Schultz is notable because of his beginning in the coffee industry: He was a barista at Starbucks’ third location.

Schultz’s aides have argued that he could rescue Democrats from Trump if the party nominates a left-wing candidate.

“It seems that nobody who is speculating about that on Twitter has given any thought to the possibility that the Democratic Party nominates someone who is so far to the left that it guarantees Trump a reelection,” Schultz adviser Steve Schmidt said. “And at that point, the only person who would theoretically be able to stop Trump from a second term is a centrist candidacy of someone like Schultz.”

Carmichael, whose company is reportedly valued at $ 1 billion, has long been a rumored potential candidate against Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is up for reelection in 2022. Carmichael, 55, has denied that he is considering running for office.

Tulsi Gabbard

Carmichael said he endorsed Warren early in the campaign cycle because the Massachusetts senator, who launched an exploratory committee last month, is “heads and tails above” other declared and potential candidates.

He said Warren is best equipped to handle an economic downturn, which forecasters warn could be around the corner.

“I believe that she has a steady hand, and now remember, the next president of the United States of America will be driving this thing in the deep bowels of hell in the recession,” he said. “That’s almost certain, and so as a driver, you want someone … that can take in a great deal of information, process it, and make a sober decision.”

Warren’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

Carmichael has said other liberal business owners should speak out in favor of policies like Warren’s.

“A lot of times, you have really, really smart people who have done things like teach at prestigious colleges, who are going to be accused of things that aren’t true or fair, like, ‘Well, you might be a genius, but you’ve never started a company,’” he said. “I [run] a live, active, really fast-growing business, and I can show you how [progressive economic proposals are] not killing me.”

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