Like many pairs of enemies, Trump and Avenatti have a great deal in common. Both are brash, over-the-top, publicity-mad, media-savvy, ostentatiously rich. Like Trump, Avenatti has ties to the world of D-list celebrity hangers-on. Both seem to belong to an era that most of us thought had vanished from American life, relics of a country that obsessed over the O.J. trial and watched Cops. Avenatti has been involved in some shady business ventures, including an attempted buy-out of a coffee chain that has left more than 50 lawsuits in its wake. On the other hand, he really has done things, like sue the NFL and race cars professionally in Europe, just as Trump has had some undeniable success in real estate. But at the end of the day both men are masters of communication, especially in the increasingly relevant-seeming medium of television.
This is why the idea of Avenatti running for president in 2020 is so fascinating. After announcing his interest back in August he has already begun speaking at Democratic Party dinners and visiting Iowa and New Hampshire. His coyness about his ultimate intentions — “Obviously, New Hampshire is the second state that ultimately picks a Democratic nominee. In the event I were to run, it’s important to be there” — could be copied and pasted from Trump’s own extended roll-out of his campaign.