With three weeks to go until the midterm elections, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh has helped Republicans by providing an “adrenaline shot to the base,” which is particularly helpful in red states where Democrats voted against Kavanaugh. “It’s being used on the air in commercials in Missouri and Montana and Indiana,” McConnell said in a phone interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD on Tuesday. “There are public polls indicating the enthusiasm among Republicans is now close to matching the enthusiasm among Democrats, which has been sky-high all year.”

McConnell wouldn’t make any Election Day predictions, but he did promise the Senate will confirm “a few more” circuit court judges during the lame-duck session. “And if we’re lucky enough to be in the majority next year, I think we can have a truly transformative effect on the federal court,” he said. “I think what we’re doing to transform the court system is the most important thing we’re doing.”

McConnell wanted to talk about conservative judges on late Tuesday morning, but the president of the United States had a different sort of legal victory on his mind at that time. Less than 30 minutes before McConnell spoke to TWS, Trump had taken to Twitter to insult porn actress Stormy Daniels as “horseface” after a judge ruled against her in a defamation suit against Trump. Asked if he had any comment on the president’s tweet, McConnell replied: “No, I’m not in the tweet commentary business.”

The always-on-message majority leader also declined to comment on other issues unrelated to the Republican majority‘s record and upcoming agenda. Asked about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test revealing she may have had a very distant Native American ancestor, McConnell laughed a bit and said: “We’re sort of taking one election at a time. That seems to be about the 2020 election.” He declined to say whether he’d like to see Warren, Michael Avenatti, or any other Democrat run in 2020. “I’m not going to handicap the Democratic nomination process.”

Asked if the Senate would launch an investigation into who leaked Christine Blasey Ford’s name to the media and whether or not Ford’s lawyers misled her or the committee, McConnell said that would be a matter discussed during the lame-duck session. “There’s a lot of discussion about it. I know some members of the judiciary committee have been talking about it,” he said. “That’s probably a discussion for when we get back.”

Republicans don’t have good odds of holding both the House of Representatives and picking up a seat or more in the Senate in 2018, but if they do, McConnell would like to take another run at health care reform next year. “I would hope so. That’s the one place we came up short, and I’d like to finish the job,” McConnell told TWS.

His message to conservatives disappointed about the failure to repeal-and-replace Obamacare is: “Look at the record of this Congress. This is the most accomplished Congress in the time I’ve been in the Senate, and I’m in my 34th year. If you like America right of center, there’s not much to dislike about this Congress, whether it’s comprehensive tax reform for the first time in 30 years, 16 uses of the Congressional Review Act, carving some of the regulatory relief out of Dodd-Frank, 84 judges, two Supreme Court judges. This has been as good as it gets for right-of-center government.”

While the Kavanaugh confirmation seems, in the short-term, to have helped Republicans more than Democrats in the polls, it has energized liberals and Democratic activists, some of whom are now calling for more radical changes to the Senate.

When I asked McConnell about Democratic calls to add Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as new states, in order to add four more Democrats to the Senate, he chuckled. “Some of them are arguing that the Senate itself is a problem and that we ought to amend the Constitution. My advice to the Democrats is: Why don’t you learn to compete in red states?”

McConnell was similarly dismissive of Democratic calls to expand the Supreme Court to 11 or more justices. “If you can’t win, you want to change the rules. [Franklin] Roosevelt tried that when he had a totally compliant Democratic Congress, and it didn’t work for him,” McConnell said. “Look, as I said, I think the solution for Democrats is to learn how to compete in red-state America.”

Asked if he was concerned Democrats would abolish the filibuster for legislation the next time they control both houses of Congress and the White House, he said: “I’m not worried about it. I think that’s the essence of the Senate.”

McConnell drew a distinction between the Senate minority’s long-standing ability to filibuster most legislation and the short period of time during which judicial filibusters were routine. “The business of filibustering judges is a Democratic invention. It’s fairly new. It started during Bush 43,” McConnell said. “We’ve sort of worked our way through that, and we’ve officially made it impossible to filibuster nominations on the executive calendar.” In 2013, Senate Democrats abolished the filibuster for all nominations except the Supreme Court; Senate Republicans nixed the Supreme Court filibuster in 2017 to confirm Neil Gorsuch.

As for the continued Democratic complaints about the Republican majority refusing to hold hearings or votes on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, McConnell said: “The truth of the matter is: Those are crocodile tears. They knew if the shoe was on the other foot and there was a Republican president making a nomination to a Democratic Senate in 2016, they wouldn’t have filled it.”

Even on the heels of a Supreme Court victory, McConnell remains cautious about November. Asked if he had any predictions for Election Day, McConnell said: “No, I never put a number on it. We do have a good map, but they had a good map the last cycle—24 of us up and only 10 of them—and it didn’t work for them.”

Three weeks can be a long time in politics. If the 2016 election had been held on October 16, Republicans would’ve almost certainly lost the White House and the Senate (with a good chance of losing the House, too) instead of winning them all. McConnell noted that in 2016, “Chuck Schumer had an exclusive interview with a different reporter each day the last week before the election to talk about his agenda, and he called me up the day before the election to say he hoped we were going to have a really good relationship. And I called him up the day afterwards and said, ‘I sure hope so.’ The point being: He looked at the map and said, ‘Surely we’re going to get it back.’ So I think that’s a cautionary note about assuming the map alone will get the job done.”

McConnell listed nine states as “cliffhanger races” —Arizona, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Florida. “All of them [are] basically within the margin of error,” McConnell said. “I don’t think any of them are over or any of them are lost three weeks out.”