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Avenatti says he may run for president

Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti says he will decide soon if he will enter the running for president in 2020.

Posted: Aug 11, 2018 8:04 AM
Updated: Aug 11, 2018 8:04 AM

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."

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.

Asked about Avenatti's potential candidacy on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he wouldn't back him.

"I would not support Michael Avenatti for President of the United States," the Connecticut senator said. "I am not sure I'd support him for any political office unless he can demonstrate some knowledge of the issues and something other than just the showmanship -- which perhaps he has done very well for his client, but less so maybe on the legal front."

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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845108

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161242006
Mobile741961379
Madison53291732
Shelby38328368
Baldwin38074589
Tuscaloosa36017641
Montgomery34483781
Lee25557263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22454406
Etowah20016517
Marshall18781316
Houston17729425
St. Clair16880358
Limestone16138218
Cullman16050303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14984306
Talladega14191299
DeKalb12971269
Walker12029380
Blount10715192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10161194
Coffee9415192
Colbert9341208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7255201
Russell707865
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5403130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317763
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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