Michael Avenatti says in a Time magazine profile that every political event he attends puts him "a little closer" to running for president in 2020.
The profile, titled, "Michael Avenatti's Past Won't Stop Him From Running in 2020," highlights the attorney's past and what he might bring to the Democratic ticket in the next election.
"I keep waiting to go to one of these events and to come away with a negative thought as to whether I should do this," Avenatti told Time, but every time, "it puts me a little closer to actually doing it."
Avenatti, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, has been floated as a potential 2020 candidate for months and he himself said, "I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States," while appearing at an August fundraising event in Iowa.
Avenatti became a household name as the attorney representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump.
"Daniels is not only a household name but also a hero to millions of women, who now routinely outnumber men at her strip shows," wrote Molly Ball and Alana Abramson, the authors of the profile.
Trump, on the other hand, has used Avenatti's association with Daniels to label him a "third rate lawyer."
Avenatti's past includes a transient upbringing, the founding of a "plaintiff contingency firm" that, Avenatti claims, led to over $1 billion in settlements, and a lawsuit from actor Patrick Dempsey who sued to get out of a business deal with him to buy a Seattle-based coffee chain, Tully's. The coffee chain closed all its stores in March after it was revealed the company owed $5 million in federal taxes.
When asked if he considers himself a bully, Avenatti said, "Look, I can be aggressive at times. I didn’t get to where I am by being a pushover, O.K.? I don’t generally go after people offensively, but if somebody comes after me, I will absolutely meet them every step of the way and then some, no question."
When he started considering a run for president, Avenatti said he placed a call to David Betras, a lawyer out of Youngstown, Ohio and the chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party. "When I look at the national Democratic Party," Betras said, "I see weakness. I see fear. Michael has picked up the corpse of the Democratic Party and breathed some life into it."
Avenatti's campaign, according to the profile, would be grounded in the fact he's "for Medicare for all but against abolishing ICE, and fears Democrats are overreaching on immigration."
In his speeches, he advocates secure borders and calls on Democrats to woo back Midwestern white men. His platform’s major plank, he says, would be a massive government-funded infrastructure push. "You can’t go into Youngstown, Ohio, and tell everybody they’re going to be retrained and go work for Google or Apple," he says. But he was vague on the details, like whether he would raise taxes to pay for it. "I’m not afraid to say I don’t know yet," he demurs.
Not every Democrat is enthusiastic about an Avenatti candidacy. A Democratic congressional aide had critical words for the attorney when asked about another Avenatti client, Julie Swetnick, who made wild, uncorroborated claims of sexual misconduct against Justice Brett Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation. "Democrats and the country would have been better off if Mr. Avenatti spent his time on his Iowa vanity project rather than meddling in Supreme Court fights," the aide said.