2020 vision

Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti says Democrats next presidential nominee ‘better be a white male’

Michael Avenatti, the man who has risen to prominence as Stormy Daniels’ attorney, took a break from his near nonstop schedule of appearances on cable news to allow TIME correspondents Molly Ball and Alana Abramson to follow him and around and interview him for a magazine profile. The resulting story runs nearly 3,500 words, but just a few lines of text near the end immediately stick out as the real headline.

“I think it better be a white male,” Avenatti said of the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he continued. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.” Of course, Avenatti is seriously flirting with a 2020 White House bid, so it’s safe to say he believes that the white male the party should nominate is him.

Overall, the profile paints Avenatti in a rather positive light. But those remarks, coming on the heals of Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman in American history nominated for president by a major political party just two years ago, could sound out of touch with many in the Democratic Party, at best. At worst, they could serve to depict Avenatti, who already has a reputation as a loudmouthed brawler, as a liberal version of his nemesis, Donald Trump.

On one hand, Avenatti is popular among a bloc of Democrats — the profile opens with a scene on a street in New Hampshire. A 79-year-old woman wearing a shirt that read “Avenatti is my spirit animal” approached him, asked for a selfie and then smoothly slipped him a $1,000 check meant to be put toward “Avenatti for President.”

And, sure, there are some women with whom he’s wildly popular, which will be like gasoline for his White House dreams. But, on another hand, as the TIME profile touches on, and as a Daily Beast story from earlier in the week — which Avenatti, in Trumpian style, blasted as “complete garbage” —  put in much clearer focus, when you look under the hood, there are some glaring similarities that he shares with President Trump. Particularly when it comes to messy finances.

On Monday, a California judge ordered Avenatti to pay a former employee at his law firm $4.5 million over a back pay dispute. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of some fiscal issues the potential candidate could be dogged by. And in the The Daily Beast story, Avenatti’s second wife, Lisa Storie-Avenatti, whom he is now divorced from, described the two enjoying a lavish lifestyle. “My American Express bill was historically on average of $60,000 to $70,000 per month, and was paid in full each month,” Storie-Avenatt told the Beast, adding that they often flew around the world in private jets and always stayed in five-star hotels. Meanwhile, the ex-law firm employee is not the only one claiming to be owed money by Avenatti.

Still, as the photos above show, women apparently love posing for selfies with the brash attorney. But whether those selfies will turn into votes — that’s another story. What do you think about Avenatti as a presidential candidate? Tell us in the poll below.

Read the full story at TIME

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