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HBO's Maher in Tampa Bay on heels of RNC

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:45 AM

Bill Maher's wish was granted. The comic/host of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" asked his agent if he could be booked in the Tampa area around the time of the Republican National Convention.

The liberal humorist will deliver his political satire Saturday at 8 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, just two days after the GOP leaves town.

Expect Maher, 56, to have a field day at the Republicans' expense. Maher recently chatted about Mitt Romney, how the Democrats have finally evolved and why he will never run for president.

Q: Since Mitt Romney tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate, there is a real study in contrasts with this presidential election.

A: We finally have something people wanted for a long time, a fight between two party bases. Ryan is the most conservative running mate in 100 years. The Democratic equivalent would be Dennis Kucinich. You have a fight for the bases. You saw Obama go to the bases with gay marriage and Latinos. The Democrats are going to minorities and women.

Q: But the problem for the Republicans is that the minorities in America are becoming the majority.

A: That's absolutely correct. That is the reason the Republicans have to cheat to win with this voter registration nonsense. They realize that demographically they are in a losing game. They looked at democracy and found a big problem, too many people are voting. So they came up with this voter ID nonsense, which is a solution in search of a problem. The problem is that there is no problem with people impersonating other people when it comes to voting. It has happened 10 times in history. That's one out of every 15 million people. … The Republicans thought 'what do we have that black people don't have? Driver's licenses.' All is fair in love and war.

Q: But the Democrats have morphed. They're fighting in the same manner as the Republicans.

A: That is long overdue. That reminds me of what Liz Cheney just said, which is that the Democrats are putting the election process in the gutter. I couldn't stop laughing. They learned from the Republicans. For too many years the Democrats brought a knife to a gunfight. But they have finally evolved. People complain that Barack Obama is too white. He plays golf too much. But when it comes to knowing how to fight, he's black. Mitt Romney has the misfortune of being the Republican who came along when the Democrats learned how to fight. Obama can fight. You can look at some of these politicians and not know what they can do.

Q: Or what they have done. During the early stages of the 2008 Democratic primary, I asked you about Hillary Clinton's presidential chances and you said the day after her nomination, the new Bill Clinton sex scandal would rock her campaign. I asked you who you would back and you said that the Democrats needed a candidate without scandal, someone who just looks American. You said that candidate was John Edwards.

A: Yes, I did say that and I was for him before I knew.

Q: But how could you have known?

A: Yes, how could I have known? He's the worst man ever. He cheated on his wife while she had cancer, but Newt Gingrich did the same thing and he was right up there with Romney earlier this year when he was running for the Republican nomination.

Q: The Republicans have been saying that America is so different since Obama was sworn in. It still looks the same to me.

A: That's completely true. I have this running argument with Ted Nugent, who said if Obama is re-elected that he'll be dead or he'll leave the country. I asked Ted during this editorial I did, 'What's so different about America?' I'm not stuck in my liberal bubble. I travel the country like he does. … Ted, what's so different about this country? I see the same thing as always. People still go to the mall and spend money on crap. Nothing has changed. Obama is one of the least radical presidents we've had. Socialist? He's not even a liberal.

Q: Who will win the presidential election?

A: I think Obama will pull it out. I gave money to Obama, but I wouldn't bet money on it.

Q: You can't underestimate Romney. This is a Mormon, who was elected as governor of Massachusetts as a Republican.

A: That was (MSNBC host) Joe Scarborough's great point. Don't underestimate this guy. To do what he did in Massachusetts is impressive. Apparently he's effective, and he's going to have a ton of money to spend on the campaign. It's practically unlimited now.

Q: What would the impact be if Romney won?

A: The effect would be great for me. I'm a comedian and he's an idiot. He has no sense about how to relate to people. He's a gaffe a day. He also can't relate to the common man. He makes George W. Bush look great in that regard. I could see Romney lighting a cigar with a $100 bill. If I wanted to be selfish I would contribute to Romney's campaign, but I can't. It's crazy that he is behind the idea of the trickle down effect. Give all the money to the wealthiest people and it'll come down. We've already seen that it doesn't work.

Q: There's never been a greater gap between the haves and have nots.

A: Yes, but look at what (Florida Sen. Marco) Rubio said. He said 'When Americans drive through wealthy neighborhoods, we don't feel jealous. The response is 'Congratulations, we'll be joining you soon.' Other than winning the lottery, how can a cop, a fireman or a teacher, all of whom we supposedly admire so much, end up in those mansions?

Q: Why won't you ever run for president?

A: First off, I don't want to, it would really screw up my life, and the footage from my shows would sink me.

Q: It also wouldn't help being pro-drug and anti-religion.

A: No, that would kill my chances, but I'm fine doing what I'm doing – having fun at the candidates' expense.

'BILL MAHER'

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall,

1111 McMullen-Booth Road,

Clearwater

Tickets: $89, $65 and $50;

(727) 791-7400 and

www.rutheckerdhall.com

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