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Michael Avenatti’s “better be a white male” comment damages his presidential bid.

Mario Tama/Getty

The controversial celebrity lawyer may have harmed his presidential bid before it even began, telling Time in an interview that Democrats would do well to nominate a “white male.”

On the surface, Avenatti’s comment might seem a self-serving remark—particularly given the anticipated candidacies of Senator Elizabeth Warren and others. But the Time report contextualized Avenatti’s comments by noting that since the election of Donald Trump, the Democrats have embraced diversity even more than before:

The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic number of women and people of color for office. But when it comes to the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. “I think it better be a white male,” he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren’t so, but it’s undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it’s why he’s been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he says. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”

Avenatti seems to have realized this comment might cause him trouble because he subsequently, when queried by The Daily Caller, denied saying this. Then, bizarrely, he tweeted a comment that seemed to be not so much a denial but a clarification:

Avenatti’s campaign is based on the implicit idea that he is the Democratic answer to Donald Trump, a rough-and-tumble political brawler who speaks bluntly. But the current controversy shows why a Democratic Trump might not actually fly in the Democratic party.

Reaction on Twitter to Avenatti’s alleged comments suggest Democrats might not want a pugnacious standard-bearer who disregards the party’s commitment to diversity: