Democratic strategist James Carville sits down with CNN's Michael Smerconish to discuss Brett Kavanaugh, the upcoming midterms, and Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
"If the Democrats win the House, they'll probably hold some kind of hearings on the fact that a lot of people think that he perjured himself during his confirmation hearings to the Court of Appeals," Carville predicted.
Carville said the result of the Kavanaugh confirmation in terms of politics "is probably as good as you could hope for" for Democrats.
"He's not going to go away and had they defeated him, they would have just picked someone equally as right-wing as Kavanaugh... in a lame duck session. We're not going to get this seat on the Supreme Court and I think in terms of political optimization, I think today's result is probably as good as you could hope for," Carville told Smerconish.
The veteran Democratic strategist warned this is just the beginning, that Democrats will "keep digging up stuff" on Kavanaugh and that he will be a campaign issue not just in 2018 but 2020 as well.
"Kavanaugh is going to be an issue in 2018. He's going to be an issue in 2020. The Democrats are going to keep digging up stuff. The press is not going to stop all of the things that they're working on about Kavanaugh," he said.
Transcript, via CNN:
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: OK, James. The most predictable question imaginable, 3.7 percent unemployment, a 49-year low, but against the back drop of Kavanaugh and Russia, is it still the economy, stupid?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean I think -- I think it's always -- the economy's always a big issue, but I mean the economy was good when this administration took office. It is better now, but that's a result of a trillion dollars worth of stimulus. So then there are also a lot of other issues out there that people are affected by and excited about or mad about or a lot of other things.
But understand, this is not an economic turnaround. This is just taking something that was good and it's gotten better or (ph) sort of predictable outcome of -- to what they did by increasing spending and cutting taxes. But I don't think this is the smartest thing to do in recovery, but we'll see.
SMERCONISH: Would it have been better for the GOP if Kavanaugh had failed because then the base would have been so livid, so PO'd ...
SMERCONISH: ... They'd all come out to vote?
CARVILLE: You know, that's the money question, Michael, and I just found myself today, to the Democrats, Kavanaugh is worth a lot -- is worth a lot more alive than dead. And what's going to be very interesting about this is usually so you confirm the Supreme Court Justice, they go on the Supreme Court, then every now and then you hear about them, they write a decision that people like or don't like or something like that.
This is not going to go away. They're not going to stop doing stories on Kavanaugh. They're going to -- you know, they're going to keep them front and center. If the Democrats win the House, they'll probably hold some kind of hearings on the fact that a lot of people think that he perjured himself during his confirmation hearings to the Court of Appeals.
In this issue (ph), he's not going to go away and had they defeated him, they would have just picked someone equally as right-wing as Kavanaugh and at a random through (ph) in a -- in a lame duck session. We're not going to get this seat on the Supreme Court and I think in terms of political optimization, I think today's result is probably as good as you could hope for.
SMERCONISH: I saw that Marist survey a couple of days ago that said the enthusiasm gap that had been 10 points in July for the Ds had shrunk to two.
SMERCONISH: But that was before the vote was taken and I -- that's what I was referring to. I was thinking, OK ...
SMERCONISH: But now that Kavanaugh is going to go through ...
SMERCONISH: Then what to the enthusiasm?
CARVILLE: Right. I understand clearly what you're saying. And look, I think some of the resentment against what happened -- Kavanaugh, people feel like he was treated unfairly. I think some of that is going to stick.
The other thing is we're going to be looking at some record, record high turnout in November in this off-year. I can't imagine how high it's going to be because, you know, the argument was the Democrats are really stoked and they're stoked. The Republicans and -- you know, some of it will recede, but they do a good job rallying their base and rallying their people and I suspect they will too, but watch out because the Democrats around the country are pretty jacked up right now.
SMERCONISH: Do you think that one of the reasons that the President and the White House may have tripled down with Kavanaugh was the idea, OK, we're going to lose the House. We're going to lose the House, we may as well go forward in the Senate because you know those odds are dramatically different. There's an advantage to the Republicans ...
SMERCONISH: Given how many Democrats have to defend themselves in red states. Could that have been part of their calculus?
CARVILLE: I think at the end of the day, the carnage, when you look back over it, they can't be really happy with the way this thing is. And understand -- and I'm really serious. I think this is significant. Unlike most Supreme Court appointments, after they're sworn in on the Supreme Court, they just recede in the background. Kavanaugh is going to be an issue in 2018. He's going to be an issue in 2020. The Democrats are going to keep digging up stuff. The press is not going to stop all of the things that they're working on about Kavanaugh.
It's just one of these amazing things that probably has never happened before in American politics where a Supreme -- sitting Supreme Court Justice is going to be a real issue in the coming campaigns.
SMERCONISH: Lindsey Graham dusted off another of your lines from the old days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: You know, here's what's personally degrading. This is what you get when you go through a trailer park with a hundred dollar bill. You've seen -- this is not the first time this has happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's actually a reference to something somebody said.
GRAHAM: In James Carville ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: It didn't go over so well in 2018. What were you thinking when you heard that?
CARVILLE: I don't know. You know, I've said a lot of things about life as joke (ph). I was cracking a joke. It was actually about Gennifer Flowers and I don't think that Dr. Blasey Ford strikes me as a kind of a little bit of a different -- a little bit of a different deal here, you know? But I always -- I'm always complimented when people use my lines. I'm glad that you started and now (ph) Senator Graham and we always like to have a little legacy out there, Michael.
[09:20:05] SMERCONISH: There's going to -- there's going to be -- there's going to be some room issues on that tombstone. We hope it's 100 years from now, but which of these is going to be the final one, I don't know. I've got to ask this of James Carville. As a -- as a political strategist whose skills are unparalleled, do you think that the Russians could have pulled off what they pulled off without some kind of assistance within the United States?
CARVILLE: No. I mean it was -- it was really highly targeted. I mean and, you know, there's a very good book out by Kathleen Hall Jamieson who's a -- who's been around -- a very respected academic and ...
SMERCONISH: Yes. At Annenberg.
CARVILLE: And she agrees with Nate Silver -- right. And she says the Russians did throw the election to Trump, that their interference was deterrentive. We'll keep doing that (ph), but they knew exactly who they were targeting and where they were going. Now, do I know that President Trump himself was doing this? I highly -- I doubt that, but they had Americans that were helping them every step of the way. They were targeting African American voters in Detroit and telling them to vote by text. You know, they knew exactly -- on social media, exactly where they were going and who they were going for and what kind of message it was.
I mean I don't think there's any doubt that they had American assistance. What I'm not prepared to say is that there's no doubt that Trump or his people were involved in this. Mueller will let us know who was involved and how much and I suspect that he already knows that. But I'm not saying that Trump people could very well -- I'm not saying they weren't, but I know there was professional American help. I'm just not certain as to who it was.
SMERCONISH: Hey, James, thank you so much for being here.
CARVILLE: Michael, always a pleasure. You have a great show and love doing it. Thank you.