MSNBC Panelists: Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer ‘Stands Out’ as 2020 Contender

‘People would be foolish to underestimate Michael Avenatti,’ says Nicolle Wallace

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Michael Avenatti, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer and a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, is getting serious consideration from MSNBC as the next commander in chief.

Avenatti traveled to the Iowa State Fair and said Thursday he is pondering a run for the presidency, touting his ability to "take the fight to this president." MSNBC’s "Deadline: White House" devoted a whole segment to analyzing his chances to win, with host Nicolle Wallace asking, "Why not?"

Wallace said Avenatti’s massage of being a "fighter," telling his personal story, and connecting with voters "hit a lot of the right notes." He talked about shaking up Washington, which Wallace likened to Trump’s own populist rise.

Avenatti has no political experience or known policy expertise, but he has gone on television numerous times since his client, Daniels, filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump. Daniels alleges she had an affair with Trump and was paid not to talk about it, which Trump has denied.

Philip Rucker, the Washington Post‘s White House Bureau Chief, said Avenatti stands out among Democratic candidates for how he resembles Trump.

"You look at the field of Democrats right now, and Avenatti’s the one who stands out. He’s the one who’s not a politician," Rucker said. "If he gives the base what they're looking for and shows he can go toe-to-toe with Trump, he’d have a chance."

Wallace said Democrats may want someone with Avenatti’s fighting spirit.

"It they decide they value a fighter most, people would be foolish to underestimate Michael Avenatti," Wallace said.

Political science professor and MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson agreed.

"I have always said they need a fighter," Johnson said. "You need someone who is not going to take the high road because the high road doesn’t work with this guy [Trump]."

Johnson suggested Avenatti run with Eric Holder, the former attorney general in the Obama administration who has been floating his own potential candidacy.

"Democrats are going to want to win, and whoever they think can win, regardless of what his or her background might be, that person can be ahead," Johnson said. "And if Avenatti can give a good speech, why not?"

The lone dissenter on Avenatti’s prospects was Jennifer Rubin, a Washington Post columnist.

"Just because Donald Trump ran as a celebrity and has become the worst president in history, doesn’t mean the Democrats should duplicate it," Rubin said.

She said Democrats are different from Republicans because "they do care about some of the policy issues."

"They better get someone with a decent personality," Rubin said. When Wallace asked who that might be, Rubin said they haven’t found one.

Wallace said she has not talked to a single Democrat who feels good about their pool of potential Trump challengers. She also said she was not pushing for Avenatti but merely considering his chances.

"I’m not advocating for another person who hasn't worked in politics, I’m just saying, why not?" Wallace said.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is the deputy war room director at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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