McConnell Thanks Democrats for Energizing Republicans

By Susan Jones | October 8, 2018 | 6:08 AM EDT

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks in defense of Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - Republicans' "energy and enthusiasm" was lagging behind that of Demorats -- "until this," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told CBS's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"And I think this (the Kavanaugh confirmation spectacle) gave us the motivation and the opportunity to have the kind of turnout in this off-year election that would help us hold the Senate."

McConnell said the Senate vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court demonstrated two things: "It was a close vote, an important vote. I think we were able to establish that the presumption of innocence is still important in this country and that the Senate is not going to be intimidated by these kinds of tactics."


McConnell called it ironic that the behavior of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, combined with the protesters' "overreach," "has actually energized the Republican base, particularly in the red states, where we're trying to pick up seats out across America.

"So I want to thank -- I want to thank the other side for the tactics that have allowed us to kind of energize and get involved our own voters."

Along those lines, President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday: "You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law - not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!"

McConnell said the protesters who were confronting senators in the hallways and at their homes "was really quite a display of aggressiveness, far beyond what I would consider peaceful protesting."

"And I'm really proud of my members for not knuckling to that -- those kind of mob-like tactics."

Asked if Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican not to support Kavanaugh's nomination, should be punished, McConnell said he'd "rather talk about the success that we had.

"Senator Murkowski is a Republican member of our conference in good standing. We're happy that we won. I'm sorry that we lost her, but we got the votes of all the other members of my conference. And those who wanted the additional FBI investigation for a week took a look at the report, found no corroborating evidence, and were comforted to vote for Judge Kavanaugh.

Senator Collins' speech was one of the most consequential and outstanding speeches I have ever heard in the Senate in support of Judge Kavanaugh."

Asked if the Senate will finally act on a bill changing the way Congress deals with sexual assault among its members, McConnell said, "Yes, I sure hope so. I mean, we have had difficulty negotiating our differences between the House and Senate, but that's something I know we will get done before the end of the year.

McConnell said the House and Senate are now "negotiating a solution," and he expects to get a result before the end of this Congress.

McConnell also emphasized that bipartisanship is not dead:

"In spite of our big fight over this nomination, and over taxes last year, that there's been an awful lot of bipartisan cooperation. We passed two overwhelmingly -- by overwhelming margins to bills just last week in, the middle of the Kavanaugh dispute, on opioids, and a five-year extension of the FAA. And we have also done appropriations better, on a bipartisan basis, then any time since the 1990s."

"So the notion that the Senate is somehow broken over this is simply inaccurate."

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