Donald Trump? “A moron on many things.” The Democratic party? “They don’t control me.” The American electorate? “[They] want a fighter.”
1996 College graduate Michael Avenatti did not hold back the punches in a highly-anticipated event held in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall on Friday afternoon. Speaking to a crowd of 70 students, the Penn graduate shared his candid thoughts on a range of issues during a freewheeling question-and-answer session, weighing in on his relationship with the Democratic party and his opinion of fellow Penn graduate and political rival President Donald Trump.
Throughout the hour-long event, which was co-organized by Penn Democrats and the Government and Politics Association, Avenatti repeatedly referred to himself as the person best suited to defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election, while conceding that he is not in fact, the ideal Democratic candidate.
“We have to decide as a party: do we want to win, or do we we want to nominate a person who will be the best nominee, but loses?” Avenatti said.
Avenatti also addressed the controversy surrounding his stance that only a white man could beat Trump, comments that were reported in a Time interview in late October. He claimed that his quotes were taken out of context and that he meant a white male faces a far easier path at defeating the president than other demographics, due to racism evident in the United States.
"Do I think a woman could beat Trump? Yes. Do I think a person of color could beat Trump? Yes. Do I think another minority, Hispanic or otherwise, could beat Donald Trump? Sure,” Avenatti said. "Are they going to have as easy a road as a white male in this current political environment? No."
The Penn alumnus implored the Democratic party to accept what he sees as the political reality of the time and to nominate a decisive, tough figure that can match up to Trump.
“Whether you’re on the left, right, or center, people want a fighter,” Avenatti said. The 1968 Wharton graduate is a “dictator and demagogue,” he added, warning that Trump cannot be underestimated.
Avenatti, a trial lawyer by trade, rose to prominence earlier this year by representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her bid to annul a non-disclosure agreement she signed with Trump. Hours before Avenatti spoke at Penn, The Wall Street Journal released a report concluding the President played a “central role” in paying off Daniels in exchange for her silence.
The news was greeted by Avenatti as confirmation of “everything we’ve been alleging." He added, "It’s always good to be right.”
As Avenatti exited Steinberg-Dietrich Hall for what he said was an appearance on CNN, The Daily Pennsylvanian caught up with the Penn grad for a walk-and-talk interview.
Back in September, Avenatti tweeted at Trump challenging the Wharton grad to release his transcript. But what would we see in Avenatti’s Penn transcript and what would we see from Trump’s?
“My transcript is good, it’s not great,” Avenatti said. “But it’s a lot better than his, I’m confident of that."
Trump has never challenged the fact that he "graduated first in his class," but Trump's classmates have disputed this claim to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Additionally, Trump's name did not appear on a list of the 56 students on the Wharton Dean's List in 1968, which represents approximately the top 15 percent of the 366 person Wharton class.
While Avenatti has flirted with a bid for the Democratic nomination for president, he said he would announce whether he has made decision on running by the end of the year. He added, however, that he believes Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., will be indicted for making false statements to Congress and the FBI before he announces his decision on the presidential bid.
And while the rain poured down on Locust Walk as Avenatti waited to leave the campus he once called home, he gave his take on the significance of Tuesday’s midterm election results.
While the Democrats reclaimed control of the House of Representatives, Avenatti said he wasn't getting carried away with the Democratic successes, preferring to instead focus on results in states that will be crucial to the path to the White House in two years, such as Ohio and Florida.
“I think the map just got a lot harder for the Democrats in 2020,” he said.