A run for President would thrust Avenatti into the middle of the party’s identity crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic number of women and people of color for office. But when it comes to the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. “I think it better be a white male,” he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren’t so, but it’s undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it’s why he’s been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he says. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
Beneath the pugnacious persona, Avenatti’s own political instincts are rather conventional. 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.