'You gotta clap for that': Howard Schultz asks the audience to applaud him during a policy speech without much substance

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz repeatedly asked his audience to clap during a policy speech on Thursday at Purdue University.  
  • Twitter critics were quick to compare the move to Jeb Bush's infamous "please clap" moment during the 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Schultz, a self-described "centrist independent," has premised his possible presidential bid on the idea that Americans want "common sense," moderate policy solutions.
  • Schultz offered vague policy ideas during the speech, but didn't unveil any detailed proposals. 

Former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz repeatedly asked his audience to clap during a policy speech on Thursday at Purdue University. 

In what Schultz's team billed as a "major policy speech" to promote his potential independent presidential bid, Schultz laid out a few vague proposals to reduce the national debt, lower the cost of healthcare, and restore order in Washington. 

The first request for applause from Schultz came after he mentioned that student tuition at Perdue will be lower in 2020 than it was in 2012. When the audience didn't react, Schultz added: "You gotta clap for that."

Read more: Democrats are begging Howard Schultz not to run for office — and threatening a Starbucks boycott if he does

Later in his speech, Schultz slammed President Donald Trump for refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential election. Schultz insisted — as have nearly all Democrats — that every presidential candidate should make their tax returns public.

The line garnered some applause. 

Schultz went on, "And if I choose to run, I will absolutely release my tax returns."

After a beat, Schultz added, "You can clap for that." 

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Former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz appears on the Fox Business Network's Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo television program in New York City, November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)
Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, poses for a portrait at his new Teavana store in New York, October 23, 2013. Starbucks Corp, which has doubled down on its tea bet, is opening its first Teavana tea bar in New York City this week, aiming to do for tea, the world's second most popular beverage after water, what it has done for coffee. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD)
Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz, pictured with images from the company's new "Race Together" project behind him, speaks during the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Seattle, Washington March 18, 2015. Schultz has deftly navigated thorny issues such as gay marriage, gun control and Congressional gridlock, but his move to weigh in on U.S. race relations has brewed up a social media backlash. The company kicked off the discussion when it published full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers earlier this week with the words "Shall We Overcome?" at center page and "RaceTogether" and the Starbucks logo near the bottom. REUTERS/David Ryder (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz speaks during the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Seattle, Washington March 18, 2015. Starbucks Corp will begin offering delivery in New York City and Seattle later this year, when it also plans to expand mobile order and pay services across the United States. REUTERS/David Ryder (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, attends a dinner reception for Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seattle, Washington September 22, 2015. Xi landed in Seattle on Tuesday to kick off a week-long U.S. visit that will include meetings with U.S. business leaders, a black-tie state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and an address at the United Nations. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks poses during an interview with Reuters in Shanghai April 19, 2012. Starbucks Corp wants to make its mainland China expansion a family affair. The world's biggest coffee chain is opening cafes in China at a rate of one every four days in its quest to expand from about 570 shops today to more than 1,500 by 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES)
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks to shareholders about the company's partnership with the Keurig single-serve coffee brewing machine, at the company's annual meeting of shareholders in Seattle, Washington March 23, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz talks to shareholders at the Starbucks Annual Shareholders meeting at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Washington March 19, 2008. REUTERS/Marcus R. Donner (UNITED STATES)
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz speaks during an interview in Tokyo April 13, 2010. Starbucks plans to sell its Via brand instant coffee in grocery stores and other retail channels outside its own outlets in Japan in the future, Schultz said. To match interview STARBUCKS/JAPAN REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
Howard Schultz, the President of Starbucks Coffee Company takes a sip of coffee as he assists in the opening of his first coffee house in Paris, January 15, 2004. The coffee house is situated on Avenue de l'Opera at the heart of Paris' tourist district. REUTERS/Charles Platiau PP04010041 MAL/WS
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Twitter critics were quick to compare the move to Jeb Bush's famous "please clap" moment during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Schultz has premised his possible centrist candidacy on the idea that America needs an independent to find "common sense," moderate solutions that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. He's harshly attacked Trump as well as many prominent Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, both 2020 candidates.

"Given the choice between [Trump] and a far-left Democrat, Donald Trump would win reelection," Schultz said on Thursday.

During his roughly 15-minute speech, Schultz argued that the country's most pressing problems "aren't being solved" because "it's not in the interest of the far-left and the far-right extremes." 

Schultz said neither the Republican Party's calls to repeal Obamacare nor left-wing demands for Medicare for All are "viable." He also pointed to the failure of both major parties to address what he says are the causes of ever-growing health costs.

"The truth is that healthcare costs are the biggest driver of unaffordable care," he said. "Yet neither side has developed, let alone offered, a credible plan to reduce costs by increasing competition. Or requiring more transparency on prices from hospitals and drug companies. Or investing in preventive care." 

Besides these broad suggestions, Schultz offered no concrete healthcare policy ideas. 

While Schultz has received significant media attention, there doesn't appear to be much early public support for his potential run.

A survey from data science firm Optimus, released on Thursday, found that of those familiar with Schultz, 18% have a favorable opinion, while 40% have an unfavorable opinion. The poll also found that Schultz's independent bid would siphon off enough Democratic voters to boost Trump's chances of reelection.  

And a recent Change Research poll found even more dismal results: 40% of respondents said they viewed Schultz unfavorably, while just 4% said they viewed him favorably.

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