This was Michael Avenatti first visit to New Hampshire as a could-be presidential candidate. But when he showed up in rural Greenfield, in full L.A. trial lawyer at rest regalia -- Prada jeans, Louis Vuitton belt, form-fitting french blue shirt – it was clear his cable news ubiquity had paid off.
Sasha Dube of Peterborough was one of a steady stream of voters gunning for a selfie.
"Can I grab a picture with you?”
“My 10-year-old daughter is not here with me and she is acutally bummed. She's seen you on the View. Thank you so much!"
The gratitude many picnic goers felt toward Avenatti was palpable. State Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley roared like a carnival barker as he introduced Avenatti to the cheering crowd.
"Donald Trump’s worst nightmare, Michael Avenatti.”
When Avenatti spoke, his bottom line wasn’t much different. But he opened by acknowledging the obvious, that being in New Hampshire considering a presidential run is a bit weird.
“In normal times I would not be with you. I would be back in Los Angeles enjoying my good fortune. But these, as all of you know, are anything but normal times.”
Yet Avenatti did try to seem normal. He talked about mowing lawns and shoveling snow during his childhood in Missouri. Avenatti also stressed that politics aren’t new to him. He told the crowd that in his 20s he worked 130 Democratic campaigns in states across the country. But he says the Trump presidency, and his experience representing Stormy Daniels, galvanized him. And convinced him that to defeat this president, Democrats must reject any pretense of turning the other cheek.
“So I say when they go low, we hit harder.”
For plenty in the crowd, Avenatti’s call to arms was more than welcome.
“Michael Avenatti and Stormy Daniels are doing what Congress will not do, which is to go at this man and stop his abuses.”
Suzanne O’Brien of Sharon says the country needs Avenatti to run for President.
“And it’s a breath of fresh air, I used to work at the Kennedy Library, for 10 years, and they used to say that about President Kennedy.”
Avenatti himself tends to offer a more contemporary rationale for a potential candidacy: That Democrats mostly need a nominee capable of doing one thing, pounding Donald Trump in a campaign that Avenatti says will be a street fight.
"And I believe that this is all about matchups. So if the Democratic Party proceeds to nominate the person who would be the best president that would be a mistake. Because we had that person back in 2016."
Michael Avenatti says he intends to stay busy right through Election Day. And as he weighs his own political future, his discernment process will include travel, to Iowa on Wednesday, then to Chicago. Later, he’ll head to California and Ohio. The immediate goal, he says, is raise money for Democrats.
Becky Hudson of Lyndeborough volunteered at the picnic. She says Avenatti showing up did benefit local Democrats financially, and she agreed with much of what Avenatti had to say. But she’s skeptical of his presidential ambitions, and says it will take plenty of convincing before she’s persuaded that Michael Avenatti is the antidote for what Donald Trump has done to the country’s politics.
"I think the reality show needs to end. This is peoples' life. Not a game. I think he needs experience. You know maybe in six years."
Michael Avenatti may be working on a faster timetable. He says he’ll be back in New Hampshire next month.