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Michael Avenatti is no Donald Trump. Not even close.

Michael Avenatti was ...

Posted: Aug 14, 2018 9:06 AM
Updated: Aug 14, 2018 9:06 AM

Michael Avenatti was in Iowa this weekend. Because he is thinking, actively, about running for president. Of the United States. Which is something we have to take seriously. Because Donald Trump is president.

Or something.

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The logic goes like this: Trump was a businessman who had never run for office before but was famous for being on TV. Avenatti, who, in case you haven't watched cable TV in the past few months (shame!) is porn star Stormy Daniels' lawyer, has also never run for political office before and is famous for being on TV.

Avenatti himself is drawing comparisons between himself and Trump, insisting that the only way Democrats can hope to beat this most unconventional of presidents is with his own medicine. "I think there's a huge appetite within the party for a fighter," Avenatti said in Iowa. "I think the party has yearned for a fighter -- a fighter for good, if you will -- for a significant period of time. And for many, I'm probably seen as that individual."

Here's the thing: I know Donald Trump. I have covered Donald Trump. And you, Michael Avenatti, are no Donald Trump.

Like it or not, Trump had been a symbol of wealth, success and, yes, excess for decades prior to even considering a run for president. "Art of the Deal" was a huge bestseller. "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice" were on broadcast TV every week for years. (I was struck by just how known Trump was for being rich and famous when I was watching the re-make of "The Little Rascals" with my kids. Trump is in that! And guess who he plays? The father of the rich kid! Sidebar to the sidebar: Trump is also in "Home Alone 2" -- where he plays himself.)

Trump's ubiquity -- and what he symbolized to large swaths of the country -- was central to his rise as a candidate. Trump had been selling the idea of being as rich and successful and famous as he was for years and years. While the political class rolled their eyes at the idea that Trump could be taken seriously as a candidate, for lots and lots of people it made perfect sense. Trump succeeded in everything he did, so why not this?

Avenatti is not that person. In fact, he's the opposite of Trump. He is someone that people in the political class know and know well due to the fact that he is constantly on cable TV. But the average person has no clue who Avenatti is. In a Quinnipiac University poll in June, nearly three quarters of those tested said they didn't know enough about Avenatti to offer an opinion on him. Of those who did have a view on Avenatti, it was very much mixed; 12% approved of him while 14% disapproved.

Trump is also, for all of his boasts, very, very wealthy. Like, billionaire wealthy. And while he didn't spend anywhere near as much of his personal money as he said he would, Trump did wind up writing checks totaling $66 million for his campaign. From the little we know about Avenatti's finances, he doesn't appear to have anywhere near that sort of money. And in order to anywhere close to as well-known as Trump was on the day he descended that golden (gilded) escalator in the lobby of Trump Tower would take tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

The one commonality that Avenatti does have with Trump is that he makes for good TV. The camera likes him, and he has a very strong innate sense of how, when and where to make news. And it is a possibility that Trump fundamentally changed the game in 2016 when it comes to how much media exposure matters. If Avenatti can command the same sort of attention in the early days of the 2020 campaign that Trump did in the early days of the 2016 race, it's possible that his name identification with actual voters could soar in a relatively brief period of time and without a huge expenditure of money.

That could happen. And I *could* dunk a basketball at age 42.

But simply because something is mathematically possible doesn't mean it will happen. And the reality is that, for all of his obvious and, at the time, not-so-obvious problems, the simple fact is that Trump was a far more credible national candidate than Avenatti. People knew him. Many of them admired him for his wealth, his fame, the beautiful women he always seemed to have on his arm. That's simply not the case for Avenatti. People don't know him -- and those that do don't think all that much of him.

Could Avenatti, taking advantage of a presidential nominating process forever changed by Trump, emerge as a real candidate for the Democratic nomination? I doubt it highly, but sure! If he does, however, it's not because he's the Democratic Donald Trump: He's not.

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Ramsey40509748
Dakota33463350
Anoka31283368
Washington20471234
Stearns18051190
St. Louis13916247
Scott1213098
Wright11756107
Olmsted1073975
Sherburne827868
Carver703139
Clay657684
Rice621170
Kandiyohi556772
Blue Earth546833
Crow Wing489178
Otter Tail463167
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Benton423288
Winona394248
Douglas378466
Nobles374447
Mower372129
Goodhue355362
Polk330660
McLeod327947
Beltrami315048
Morrison314145
Lyon304738
Becker288839
Itasca287143
Isanti284842
Carlton283543
Steele278510
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Freeborn253623
Todd233130
Nicollet227938
Brown217434
Mille Lacs215045
Le Sueur213516
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Fillmore12646
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Rock111912
Aitkin111233
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Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99318
Pipestone96423
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Murray9096
Jackson87310
Swift84418
Pope7465
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66016
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Lincoln4892
Big Stone4693
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Grant4388
Norman4258
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Red Lake3204
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Lake of the Woods1961
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Cases: 310915

Reported Deaths: 4432
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Polk46760465
Linn18037279
Scott15838172
Black Hawk14076243
Woodbury13111181
Johnson1228552
Dubuque11615159
Pottawattamie9146115
Dallas907772
Story879438
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Webster472077
Sioux459657
Warren458039
Clinton457768
Marshall430762
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Muscatine395878
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Plymouth352870
Wapello349898
Jasper331659
Lee324132
Marion308953
Jones274650
Henry267331
Carroll258234
Bremer249848
Crawford234324
Washington222933
Boone222717
Benton213050
Mahaska197637
Jackson194932
Tama190159
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware176036
Clay172021
Wright166624
Fayette165924
Hamilton162230
Buchanan162024
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158162
Hardin156931
Cedar155519
Clayton153849
Butler150924
Page146415
Floyd141436
Cherokee140027
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek134924
Hancock131524
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123610
Calhoun12349
Grundy122528
Jefferson122125
Winnebago121729
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass114843
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112440
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union111023
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Shelby105427
Guthrie104224
Franklin103318
Unassigned10110
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88324
Keokuk86326
Howard85519
Monroe82220
Clarke8108
Pocahontas78111
Ida75930
Davis70121
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona67018
Lucas66610
Osceola64711
Worth6184
Taylor5999
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Van Buren50215
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