The Slatest

McConnell: Kavanaugh Opposition Was “Great Political Gift” to GOP Ahead of Midterms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks during a news conference following the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on October 6, 2018.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks during a news conference following the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on October 6, 2018.
JOSE LUIS MAGANA/Getty Images

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell went on an interview spree Saturday, talking to lots of media outlets to celebrate the Republican victory in the long, bitter fight over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. As the vote looked like a done deal Saturday afternoon, McConnell wasn’t shy about celebrating early while he pushed back against the narrative that the confirmation battle would be bad for Republicans in November. In fact, McConnell made it sound as if he was happy about the bitter fight because it helped galvanize the Republican base for the midterms, which was something the party was having trouble doing on its own.

“It’s been a great political gift for us. The tactics have energized our base,” McConnell told the Washington Post. “I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base.” Talking to Reuters, McConnell called the confirmation battle a “seminal event” ahead of the elections. “We’d been trying to figure out how to get the base excited about this election, and nothing unifies Republicans like a court fight,” McConnell said shortly before the Senate’s 50-48 vote to confirm Kavanaugh. “It’s been a seminal event leading into the fall election.”

He espoused the same message during an interview with CBS News after the vote, suggesting Republicans need to thank Democrats. “It certainly had a good impact for us. Our base is fired up,” McConnell said. “We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base. We didn’t think of it, the other side did it.”

McConnell insisted he never considered pushing Kavanaugh to stand down from the nomination as protests against him grew. “I never felt this nomination should be withdrawn at any point. When your reputation is in tatters as a result of unsubstantiated accusations, I thought in fairness to Judge Kavanaugh he was entitled to a vote,” McConnell told the Hill. “There was never any real serious consideration given to withdrawing.”

President Donald Trump also dismissed the importance of protesters. First, suggesting they were paid professionals and then dismissing their numbers as irrelevant. “The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny,” Trump wrote, noting they “wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter!” He went on to accuse the “Fake News Media” of trying “to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!”