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: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
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Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
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Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
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