Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult film star Stormy Daniels who has openly feuded with President Trump and his attorneys, announced in an interview Thursday he is looking into a run for the presidency — and, he says, he hopes people take him “seriously.”
“I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States, and I wanted to come to Iowa and listen to people and learn about some issues that are facing the citizens of Iowa and do my homework,” Avenatti told the Des Moines Register.
Iowa is a key early battleground state in presidential contests. Avenatti was attending the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, ahead of the Democratic Wing Ding fundraiser on Friday night. That event hosted Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2015, and Politico wrote at the time that Clinton had “crushed her speech,” drawing several standing ovations and “swaying the doubters” in her candidacy.
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“I would never think to come to Iowa in order to use the state or the people of the state to raise my profile,” Avenatti told the paper. “And obviously if I do this, then I intend to work hard and I know that ultimately the trust of the citizens of Iowa is going to have to be earned.”
Avenatti has raised his national profile in a variety of ways in recent months, including by making a slew of media appearances, engaging in public Twitter fights with Trump’s attorneys, and even teaming up with a Hillary Clinton fixer to protest outside the White House with pots, pans, and high-capacity air horns.
He previously had floated trial balloons about a bid for the White House. On July 4, Avenatti claimed on Twitter he would run against Trump “only if I think that there is no other candidate in the race that has a REAL chance at beating him.”
In an email to Fox News at the time, Avenatti claimed that he had been “approached by both the Republican and Democratic parties” about being a 2020 candidate.
Later that month, Avenatti called Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani a “train wreck of a lawyer,” after Giuliani called him a “desperate” liar. The spat emerged in the wake of reported claims, by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, that Cohen had arranged to buy Daniels’ silence.
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Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in March, claiming the nondisclosure agreement she signed concerning an alleged Trump liaison wasn’t valid because it lacked a Trump signature.
She later sued Trump for defamation, saying he unfairly hurt her reputation by dismissing as a “con job” her account of being threatened into silence about her story in 2011.
Avenatti told the Des Moines Register that his combative style would be a potential asset in a presidential run: “I think the party has yearned for a fighter – a fighter for good, if you will – for a significant period of time. And for many, I’m probably seen as that individual.
“I would like to think people would take me seriously,” he added. “And I think, hopefully, the message that I deliver tomorrow night will be well received by Iowa Democrats.”
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.