Starbucks CEO says he's gravely concerned about American politics

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Starbucks CEO Calls American Politics a 'Circus'

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says the US presidential election has turned into a "circus" and he has "grave concern" about the country's future.

"I think it's turned into something none of us has ever seen before, which I would label as almost a circus of yelling bombastic attacks, of a lack of respect, of a lack of dignity," Schultz told employees at a forum last week in Nevada, Fortune's Phil Wahba reports. "We are talking about the highest office in the land and the most powerful person in the world."

See photos of politically controversial Starbucks cups:

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Starbucks Race Together
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Starbucks CEO says he's gravely concerned about American politics
The Seattle-based coffee chain is launching a new campaign to address race relations by asking employees to write 'Race Together' on the side of customers cups in Seattle, Washington on March 18, 2015. The idea is to spark a conversation between baristas and customers. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/ABACAUSA.COM
The Seattle-based coffee chain is launching a new campaign to address race relations by asking employees to write 'Race Together' on the side of customers cups in Seattle, Washington on March 18, 2015. The idea is to spark a conversation between baristas and customers. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/ABACAUSA.COM
Starbucks new "Race Together" campaign has been drawing criticism. A coffee cup from Starbucks featuring the ''Race Together'' sticker, photographed on Wednesday. (Credit Image: � Dean Hanson/ZUMA Wire)
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Schultz isn't known to be shy about his political views.

Rumors surfaced last year that he was considering a campaign for the White House. He put an end to the speculation with an op-ed in the New York Times last August announcing that he wouldn't run.

Schultz had landed in hot water earlier in the year after he encouraged baristas to talk about race relations with customers and write "race together" on the coffee chain's cups.

The campaign suffered a public backlash from the start, with critics accusing the company of using racial tension to sell coffee. The vitriol was so strong that it caused a senior Starbucks executive to temporarily suspend his Twitter account.

The company eventually abandoned the campaign.

Schultz acknowledged his critics in his remarks to employees last week, saying, "I have been criticized because people say 'Well role is to create shareholder value and profits, not to use Starbucks as a political tool.'"

But he said he can't sit quiet through this election.

"I worry if we just continue on this track and don't speak up," he said. "I'm asking myself what can we do, given our scale... to effect change, to elecate the discourse, and to demonstrate that this is not the way the country should be run."

Schultz supported President Obama in the 2012 election but he hasn't endorsed a candidate in the 2016 election.

RELATED: Celebrities who endorse Donald Trump

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20 celebrities who endorse Donald Trump
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Starbucks CEO says he's gravely concerned about American politics

Stephen Baldwin


Baldwin, who was fired by Trump on two different seasons of "The Celebrity Apprentice," said during an interview with Don Lemon on an episode of "CNN Tonight" that Trump would make a "great" president "because he's not a politician, and he doesn't care what anybody thinks."  

Photo via Getty

Gary Busey

The actor endorsed Trump back in 2011, even after being fired from season four of "The Celebrity Apprentice," and offered his praise for the presidential hopeful again recently. "He's a great guy. He's sharp. He's fast," he told Fox411. "He can change the country after the last eight years."  

Photo via Getty

Dennis Rodman

The retired pro-basketball player tweeted: "@realDonaldTrump has been a great friend for many years. We don't need another politician, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump! Trump 2016." He was fired from season two of "The Celebrity Apprentice." 

Photo via Getty

Lou Ferrigno

When asked by TMZ for his thoughts on Trump, the actor and former bodybuilder said, "I hope Donald goes all the way." He was also fired from a season of "The Celebrity Apprentice." 

Photo via Getty

Ted Nugent 

The musician wrote an article for WorldNetDaily in which he said, "[Trump] should be given the Medal of Freedom for speaking his mind in such a bold, honest, and straightforward manner."

Photo via Getty

Tila Tequila 

The model and reality star posted a video on YouTube expressing her support for Trump.

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Wayne Newton

The Las Vegas entertainer announced his support on "Fox and Friends," “I love Donald, and he would make a great president,” he said. But he also voiced his support for other hopefuls, such as Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson. 

Photo via Getty

Willie Robertson

The businessman and star of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” supported Trump at a rally in Oklahoma last year, where he was invited up on stage. He officially announced his endorsement in January. 

Photo via Getty

Jesse Ventura 

Jesse Ventura

The former pro wrestler, former Minnesota governor, and actor was speaking with previous Trump staffer Roger Stone for "Off the Grid," when Ventura said, "I shocked my staff today. I came in and said, ‘You know what, as far as the Republicans are concerned, I hope Trump wins.'" Though he also added, "Now I’m not a Republican — I’m not a Democrat either — so ultimately, I’d like somebody else to win overall.”

Photo via Getty

Terrell Owens 

The retired NFL wide receiver told TMZ Sports, "This may be what the country needs and Trump... He’s a guy who won’t put up with B.S. and has what it takes to change how government is run." He appeared on the most recent season of "The Celebrity Apprentice."   

Photo via Getty 

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