Michael Avenatti in Iowa: I'm seriously considering running against Trump

Michael Avenatti made it clear as he wandered the rows of stalls at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday: He's se...

Posted: Aug 10, 2018 6:50 PM
Updated: Aug 10, 2018 6:50 PM

Michael Avenatti made it clear as he wandered the rows of stalls at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday: He's seriously considering a 2020 presidential run to challenge President Donald Trump.

"I'm here to listen to the great people of Iowa, explore the fair and see whether it makes sense to run for the presidency or not," Avenatti said. "I'm serious about considering it. I haven't made a decision as to what I'm going to do. I'll make a decision in the coming weeks. Maybe a bit longer than that."

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The cable television staple and combative lawyer who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels in her defamation suit against Trump had previously suggested he was considering a 2020 bid. His comments in the pivotal presidential primary state are the latest sign he is seriously testing the waters ahead of what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field of contenders.

His visit to the state fair came a day before he headlines the Wing Ding Dinner, an Iowa Democratic fundraiser that has long been a proving ground for presidential hopefuls. Avenatti will speak last at the event, according to organizers, putting him in front of Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who has announced he is running for president, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, another potential presidential contender.

Avenatti's visit to Iowa included meals with top Democratic officials, including a gathering on Thursday night at the fair. The lawyer was accompanied in Iowa by Matt Paul, a Democratic strategist who worked on Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

"The message is going to center on the need to take the fight to this President and that is the only way the Democratic Party is going to get back the White House," he said. "And, furthermore, it is not just about fighting against Donald Trump, we also have to fight for things, we have to fight for Medicare for all, we have to fight for working people, we have to fight for college affordability."

Avenatti went on to say that he would only run if he thought the stable of Democrats running against Trump were unable to beat him but declined to answer when asked specifically about top contenders considering a presidential run. He argued that his run would not be based on his career experience -- he, like the President when he considered running, has no electoral or government experience -- but instead would focus on his desire to stick it to Trump.

"I don't think experience is the most important thing by any stretch of the imagination," he said, adding that he believes he can "punch better than a lot of these candidates and I am not confined by" a government job.

When pressed on the idea that experience is not critical, Avenatti responded, "We just tried that, right," a reference to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"You can have all the experience in the world, you can be the most qualified person in the world, you can have the deepest policy books in the history of the nation, but if you can't beat this guy, it doesn't matter," he said, adding that he thinks he can "punch better than a lot of these candidates" considering a run.

His visit to the state fair was dominated by Trump. Though most people he introduced himself to knew his face but not his name, the President came up in the brief conversations. As he strode down an alley of stalls, one man yelled "Free Stormy," a reference to his client who is suing the President. And the lawyer also admitted that he wouldn't be toying with this run if Trump wasn't in the White House.

But Avenatti, who saw a boom in his notoriety in response to his anti-Trump work, disagreed with critics who argue his run is nothing more than a political stunt or attempt to annoy the President.

"How much more notoriety do I need? I don't need any more notoriety. I mean, seriously, I don't need more notoriety," he said, arguing that if someone polls his name identification with Democratic voters he would place in the "top half, maybe the top third" of people considering a run.

The reality on the ground in Iowa, though, is that a lot of the men and women Avenatti introduced himself to had little idea who he was.

At the end of his visit, before he met with a group of Democratic leaders for dinner, he walked over to Patti Lewis, a 62-year old Des Moines resident and shook his hand.

After Avenatti, Lewis looked perplexed and admitted that she has no idea who she just met and assumed he was a local TV personality.

"I'm just friendly," she laughed. "I'm an Iowa person."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 490011

Reported Deaths: 6618
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1016821593
Ramsey43388811
Dakota36714394
Anoka33545392
Washington22247262
Stearns18847202
St. Louis14915265
Scott13445107
Wright12635116
Olmsted1187890
Sherburne879474
Carver790941
Clay696288
Rice678691
Blue Earth604435
Kandiyohi582274
Crow Wing523682
Chisago502945
Otter Tail487171
Benton451890
Winona419749
Mower411931
Douglas395068
Goodhue390169
Nobles387347
Polk345363
McLeod341950
Beltrami339151
Morrison328147
Itasca315346
Becker315143
Lyon314045
Isanti310056
Steele304311
Carlton300649
Freeborn287124
Pine283616
Nicollet263341
Todd250330
Brown249137
Le Sueur238620
Mille Lacs230047
Cass221424
Waseca211217
Meeker208534
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15464
Renville152940
Redwood147127
Fillmore14029
Pennington139816
Chippewa137035
Cottonwood136120
Wadena131520
Faribault125017
Aitkin119233
Sibley118310
Watonwan11838
Rock116314
Kanabec109120
Pipestone101924
Yellow Medicine97817
Murray9548
Jackson94710
Swift87818
Pope8185
Marshall78715
Stevens7478
Lake74318
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68816
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4808
Unassigned45368
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41121
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2231
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337836

Reported Deaths: 5500
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52116562
Linn19519317
Scott17180213
Black Hawk14973294
Woodbury13858214
Johnson1317875
Dubuque12452196
Dallas1023593
Pottawattamie9899146
Story965445
Warren515176
Clinton502884
Cerro Gordo501483
Webster495888
Sioux480469
Marshall465473
Des Moines428661
Muscatine426493
Buena Vista413337
Wapello4059110
Jasper388167
Plymouth369178
Lee354653
Marion341772
Jones285355
Henry279837
Bremer270655
Carroll266848
Crawford253435
Boone244830
Benton241554
Washington239247
Mahaska215846
Jackson210339
Dickinson204340
Tama203165
Kossuth198655
Delaware186340
Clay184525
Winneshiek183729
Fayette179535
Page178119
Buchanan178029
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172923
Hardin170339
Harrison167870
Clayton160154
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146336
Lyon145741
Allamakee144948
Madison143318
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132530
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129711
Cass129751
Jefferson128534
Appanoose123447
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115440
Humboldt113925
Franklin109719
Guthrie109728
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9790
Montgomery97036
Clarke95220
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida82132
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72321
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53818
Ringgold50720
Audubon4769
Wayne47521
Adams3194
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