'Porn star lawyer' positions himself as the 'Democrat Trump'

stormy-daniels-arrest-reuters (FILE) Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks US Federal Court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) in Lower Manhattan, New York | AFP

The allegations by porn star Stormy Daniels that she had sex with US President Donald Trump over a decade ago and was paid not to talk about it have dogged the US leader since early this year. Irrespective of how the Stormy Daniels saga has been received by Americans, it has greatly increased the visibility of her flamboyant lawyer, Michael Avenatti. And on Friday, Avenatti all but declared he was interested in running for president in 2020.

Avenatti has been a known name for his cable TV appearances and Twitter posts in addition to being a high-profile lawyer, before he took up Daniels's case. On Friday, Avenatti was the keynote speaker at the Democratic Party's 'Wing Ding' fundraiser in Iowa.

Avenatti told the audience that the Democrats must fight fire with fire. He claimed, “When they [Republicans] go low, I say, we hit harder.” The statement was a reversal of what former first lady, Michelle Obama told the Democratic Convention in 2016, when she declared, “"When they go low, we go high."

Avenatti accused Trump of being a “conman” and touted “Medicare for all” and “sensible gun control”.

Avenatti's popularity has grown in the months he has represented Daniels as he has portrayed himself as a political outsider, much like Trump did in 2016. Avenatti has accused media groups of using the term 'porn star' lawyer to hit his credibility. Interestingly, Avenatti's slogan of “Make America America again” is a pun on Trump's “Make America Great Again”.

Avenatti had recently met children of illegal immigrants who were forcibly separated from their parents, an issue that caused considerable outrage against the Trump administration.

Democrats acknowledge that Trump's accusations of nepotism and corruption among “traditional” politicians boosted his support base; Avenatti's 'no holds-barred' approach is expected to evoke more curiosity and interest in the near future.