Warren Buffett: 'It would be a real mistake' if former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ran for president as an independent

  • Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett says "it would be a real mistake" if former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz runs for president as an independent against Donald Trump.
  • "If he ran as an independent, I think he would take votes away from any Democrat, including Bloomberg if he were running," Buffett says.
  • Buffett says "I hope no third-party candidate runs," because "I think third-party candidates can thwart, actually, the will of the people."

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett told CNBC on Monday it would be a "mistake" if former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ran for president as an independent against Donald Trump.

Buffett weighed in on Schultz's presidential aspirations after saying he would support Mike Bloomberg if the former New York mayor chose to run in 2020.

"Howard Schultz ... well, he says he's going to run as an independent. If he ran as an independent, I think he would take votes away from any Democrat, including Bloomberg if he were running," Buffett told Becky Quick in the "Squawk Box" interview. "So I think it would be a real mistake for him to run."

Buffett made no evaluation of Schultz's experience or competency as a potential presidential candidate. But the billionaire investing legend voiced a common criticism that has been hurled at Schultz since he publicly weighed whether or not he will stage an independent run.

"I think generally [that] third-party candidates, they're going to hurt one side or the other, and they're more likely to hurt the side that they actually favor, because they're closer to that view and so they pull more people away that would otherwise go with the second-best with that view," Buffett said.

"So I hope no third-party candidate runs," he added. "I think third-party candidates can thwart, actually, the will of the people."

Bloomberg, 77, who switched his party affiliation last year from independent to Democrat, is seen as a more politically moderate alternative than many Democrats who have already announced presidential campaigns or exploratory committees. He was also believed to be mulling a run for the White House in 2008 and 2012 but opted to finish his third term as mayor of New York City in 2013.

"If Mike Bloomberg announced tomorrow that he was a candidate, I would say I'm for him," Buffett told CNBC.

Schultz has made significant moves toward formally announcing a presidential bid, even in the face of a barrage of criticism from Democrats wary that he would siphon votes from that party's challenger to Trump in a presidential election. CNBC reported in November that Schultz, who served for decades as CEO of the coffee giant, was assembling an elite public relations team that included Steve Schmidt, who managed the late Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008.