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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: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
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Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
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Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
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Rock7149
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Houston6534
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Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
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