‘Street fighter’ Avenatti says he’s giving ‘serious thought’ to White House run

‘Street fighter’ Avenatti says he’s giving ‘serious thought’ to White House run
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Michael Avenatti says he’s the “street fighter” Democrats need if they’re going to win the White House in 2020.

Avenatti, a lawyer who has become a household name — or at least has sought to become one — with his media appearances representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels, says he’s “giving serious thought” to running for president.

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He says he’s skeptical that the politicians now seen as likely contenders in the 2020 presidential race can beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE.

The Democratic Party needs “a street fighter … someone that can give as good as they take,” he said.

“Let us remember that Donald Trump beat 16 very experienced politicians on his way to the White House — governors, senators, members of the House — and he also beat the most qualified candidate in the history of the United States, in my view, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE,” Avenatti said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.

“I’ve been fighting on behalf of David versus Goliaths. I have dealt with complex legal matters, assembled teams of people to successfully prosecute those cases, and I’m also smart enough to know what I don’t know and smart enough to surround myself with quality people. I’m smarter because I take their advice.”

It’s hard to tell how serious Avenatti is about running for higher office.

He’s never held political office before and has built a name for himself by becoming a ubiquitous presence on cable news, where he has won new supporters with blistering attacks on Trump.

Avenatti now boasts more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, more than a fair share of U.S. senators — including some seen as long-shot presidential candidates.

But that’s far fewer than former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenTech companies earn White House praise for committing to easier health data access Biden honors Heather Heyer: She is 'in every person who stands up to reject hatred and bigotry' Avenatti on 2020 campaign: 'The truth is my policy issue' MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCanadian corporate tax cuts show success of strong economic policy Avenatti on 2020 campaign: 'The truth is my policy issue' Democrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ellison wins Minnesota AG primary amid late domestic violence allegations Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE (I-Vt.) and others seen as the Democratic Party’s top-tier candidates. Those politicians also have proven fundraising abilities, policy chops and a sense of gravitas that someone like Avenatti, to this point, cannot match.

“He appears to be a talented lawyer, but what is he going to offer the American people as a candidate?” said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist. “What will he do for black youth, the economically depressed? Haven’t we learned that some track record is important? Our grand experiment with thinking out of the box should be over.”

On some level, the fact that Avenatti is even talking about a presidential run is a sign of how Democrats are searching and searching for the perfect candidate to take on Trump. Oprah Winfrey briefly became a contender after a rousing speech at the 2017 Golden Globes Awards.

The party is debating whether they need a fighter, a fresh face or someone who voters will want to have a beer with.

A Rasmussen poll out this week said 73 percent of Democrats surveyed said they want a fresh face as the 2020 nominee. Sixteen percent said the party should nominate a candidate who has run in the past.

Avenatti, 47, says he’s been consulting experts over the last couple of months about the idea of competing for the Democratic nomination.

“I’m talking to a lot of folks, seeking advice and listening to a lot of people who know about the process more than I do,” Avenatti said.

On Tuesday night, he spoke before a crowd of several hundred people in Lafayette Park outside the White House who were there to rail against Trump. The protest was put together with the help of Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, and Adam Parkhomenko, who co-founded the super PAC Ready For Hillary.

“I’m being asked to participate in those types of events and I’m honored,” Avenatti said.

One Democratic strategist speaking on background discounted the idea of an Avenatti candidacy. 

“Let’s be a little realistic here,” the strategist said.

Then the strategist, noting Trump’s surprise run to the White House, had a second thought.

“I guess after 2016, one could say never say never.”