Several CNBC hosts and contributors endorsed the idea of billionaire CEOs running for president after former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz teased a presidential campaign as an independent on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Some CNBC personalities supported Schultz as they discussed his potential candidacy and his event with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, while others held up JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as the ideal CEO to run for president.
Squawk Box co-host Joe Kernen: “I’m a big backer” of Howard Schultz’s possible run for president as an independent.
JOE KERNEN (CO-HOST): My favorite line last night … where [Howard Schultz] said, “My biggest problem is with the $21.5 trillion [national debt]; that’s the most horrific example of what’s going” -- and it’s not just the Republicans’ fault. Not just the Republicans’ fault, the $21.5 trillion. Democrats share some of the blame too for that.
KERNEN: He’s a lifelong Democrat. He’s well intentioned -- I’m a big backer of his run here. I am. Big.
CNBC contributor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: Howard Schultz exemplifies “five qualities of mythic American business heroes.”
SARA EISEN (CO-ANCHOR): Jeff, you know Howard Schultz, you know his track record as a businessman. Running as a centrist independent -- does he have a shot?
JEFFREY SONNENFELD (CNBC CONTRIBUTOR): I think he’s got a shot. I think he seriously intends to do it. He’s -- there are five qualities of mythic American business heroes, and he’s got all five of them. One of them is the common touch. He can relate to anybody, his humble origins growing up in a housing project. He’s overcome adversity. His dad had been disabled when he was young and Howard had a rough route early in his career. He’s a fabulous communicator; I’ve seen him electrify audiences as the third quality. And as a fourth one, he’s terrific at basically trying to show that he’s got sweeping social visions to get people quite excited. He’s passioned and principled about what he believes in.
CNBC host Kelly Evans suggested Jamie Dimon could “come out and potentially run an independent” for president because he’s “more centrist than either party.”
KELLY EVANS (HOST): You know, Robert, I’m also thinking about Jamie Dimon and there’s been a number of CEOs who have done quite well and probably are more centrist than either party, at least the energy in the parties represents at the moment. And someone like that could come out and potentially run an independent campaign, right? Or is that route completely over, a total dead end, and there’s no prospect for anybody of that kind of philosophy right now?
ROBERT COSTA (NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST): You could flirt with the idea, talk about it with friends on Wall Street, or get encouragement if you’re at Davos. But you have to really make an effort to run in the national level in presidential politics. The most telling example of this is Michael Bloomberg. He has decided if he does run, it would be on the Democratic side because he knows the infrastructure within a party is almost necessary if you really want to compete. Jamie Dimon, if he wanted to run -- or Howard Schultz -- you have to get in right now and almost start to build your own party within the whole U.S. system.
EVANS: Yeah, like [President Emmanuel] Macron in France.
Fast Money panelist Karen Finerman: Jamie Dimon would be the best CEO to run for president.
MELISSA LEE (HOST): So who would be the best CEO to run for president? We wanted to ask the traders; each have their own picks.
KAREN FINERMAN (PANELIST): Mine of course would be Jamie Dimon. Not just because I love Jamie Dimon, but I actually think Jamie Dimon is a proven leader in the depths of the absolute worst crisis we’ve seen. He was so far above everyone else and I think he can work together -- When he does his annual letter, he lays out a lot of things beside just banking, right, and the economy. It’s a lot broader than that. It’s about what does America need to move forward and how do we work together to get that to happen. Obviously, I think that the stigma of being a bank CEO is still -- there is still something to that, right? I believe he’s a Democrat, would run as a Democrat. I think he would be great -- that bank stigma -- and him saying I’m not going to do it, but you never know.
LEE: You never know.
FINERMAN: That would be my choice.