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Michael Avenatti's crusade for the porn actress taking on the president has already catapulted him to cable news stardom and endeared him to many frustrated liberals. Now the self-styled "dragon slayer" is taking his message to Iowa Democrats.

And the attorney who has spent months positioning himself as one of President Donald Trump's leading critics insists this foray into Iowa — an early proving ground on the presidential campaign calendar — is not a stunt.

"I am not proposing this to get under the president's skin," Avenatti said in an interview. "I am seriously considering it, and I think a lot of it is going to hinge on what direction I think the party is taking and who is likely to get in the race."

For now, Avenatti has plenty of spotlight as the top 2020 presidential prospects stay away from Iowa. He has not made any formal moves toward a presidential run, but he toured the Iowa State Fair on Thursday and was set to appear at the Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Friday. Organizers of the fundraiser for county Democratic organizations said they were happy to welcome him to an event that has drawn heavy hitters like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in past years. If anything, they said, he was boosting interest.

"Let's put it this way: Tickets are selling, and we're getting a lot of women buying tickets," said Wing Ding chairman Randy Black, who said Avenatti reached out to say he was considering attending the event and they asked him if he would like to speak.

Novelty candidates are nothing new to politically savvy Iowans. Indeed, Trump — who did not win the Republican caucuses but did win the state in the 2016 general election — was a reality star before he took to the campaign trail. Black said Avenatti could have a similar effect, noting: "You have Trump, who opened up doors for people who never entered a political arena before. Michael Avenatti has done the same thing."

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