One of the top 2020 Democratic Party front-runners has run into controversy after controversy in the past few months.
According to reports, he was just fined for tax evasion by the Justice Department. He’s reportedly in the middle of a messy divorce. He just lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit against one of his best friends and, according to Heavy.com, he may be completely broke.
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It’s not former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s not Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer or New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker or even anyone with an ounce of political experience.
But he’s still managed to become the darling of the Democratic Party heading towards the 2020 presidential election — thanks to his friendship with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Lawyer Michael Avenatti’s crusade for the porn actress taking on the president has already catapulted him to cable news stardom and endeared him to many angry liberals. Now he is taking his message to Iowa Democrats — and they’re loving it.
It’s further proof how far liberals have given in to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Honesty, business acumen, trustworthiness, or actual leadership experience aren’t necessary to win their votes.
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Just bash President Donald Trump the loudest, it seems, and Democrats will try to elect you as leader of the free world.
The attorney who has spent months positioning himself as one of Trump’s leading critics insists his political foray into Iowa — an early proving ground on the presidential campaign calendar — is not a stunt.
“I am seriously considering it, and I think a lot of it is going to hinge on what direction I think the party is taking and who is likely to get in the race,” Avenatti said in an interview. He said he’s not trying “to get under the president’s skin.”
Thanks to the mainstream media, Avenatti has plenty of spotlight as the top 2020 presidential prospects stay away from Iowa. He has not made any formal moves toward a presidential run, but he toured the Iowa State Fair on Thursday and was set to appear at the Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Friday. Organizers of the fundraiser for county Democratic organizations said they were happy to welcome him to an event that has drawn heavy hitters like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in past years.
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If anything, they said, he was boosting interest.
“Let’s put it this way: Tickets are selling, and we’re getting a lot of women buying tickets,” said Wing Ding chairman Randy Black, who said Avenatti reached out to say he was considering attending the event and they asked him if he would like to speak.
Avenatti said his visit to the State Fair included a stop at the butter cow — a cow sculpted in butter — two pork chops on a stick and plenty of conversation with people who recognized him and encouraged him to keep going. He is meeting with Democratic party officials Friday.
“I’ve been humbled over the last two days by the reaction that I received,” he said.
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Novelty candidates are nothing new to politically savvy Iowans. Indeed, Trump — who did not win the Republican caucuses but did win the state in the 2016 general election — was an unpolished real estate mogul before he took to the campaign trail. Black said Avenatti could have a similar effect, noting: “You have Trump, who opened up doors for people who never entered a political arena before. Michael Avenatti has done the same thing.”
Whether the trash-talking, sharp-suited, telegenic attorney is the right fit for low-key Iowa Democrats in the long run is an open question.. He’ll get his first stylistic test in Clear Lake, where Black says he has made clear that “we’re not here to bash, we’re here to energize the base.”
Avenatti, who attended high school in Missouri, got his legal training on the East Coast and built his controversial law practice in Los Angeles, said his remarks would focus on “how as a party we need to fight this fight. And what we need to fight for and who we need to fight for.”
But he admitted his appeal was from Trump-bashing, noting, “I’m not cute and cuddly.”
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Democratic consultant Mary Anne Marsh said Avenatti deserves credit for being able to rile up Trump and Iowa Democrats deserve credit for bringing more attention to the fundraiser.
“The Iowa Democrats are many things. Dumb’s not one,” she said. “They know how to get attention. They know how to raise money. That doesn’t mean Michael Avenatti is on the way to winning the Iowa caucuses.”
Avenatti will share the stage Friday with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Maryland Rep. John Delaney and businessman Andrew Yang. Many top-tier prospects — including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — are avoiding Iowa so far.
But Avenatti’s reach has catapulted him into the conversation. In recent weeks, he has protested Trump in London, accepted an award in Denver and visited children in New York who had been separated from their parents at the U.S. border — all for simply bashing Trump on television. He expects to devote more time to Democratic Party events in the coming weeks, with plans to appear in Ohio, Florida and Iowa (again).
So far, Avenatti hasn’t taken any formal steps toward a run, like hiring staff or raising money, though he says he has heard from consultants. He describes his political philosophy as “a Bill Clinton Democrat who embraces a few fundamental concepts of the progressive left,” such as “Medicare for all.” And he argues that while he has no background in politics, “I might argue that I’m certainly more well-versed in many concepts of government and the law than our sitting president.”
This, folks, is the best the Democrats have to offer.
The Associated Press contributed to this article