Senator Rand Paul took his message of “conservative realism” to liberal comedian Bill Maher’s HBO program on Friday night. Maher, well known self-proclaimed “libertarian” (he seems to throw the word around without much philosophical grounding) and critic of conservatives, welcomed Paul to his show and had high praise for Paul’s genuine efforts to reach out to new constituencies to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal.
Maher praised Paul’s efforts to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have served their time, allowed Paul to further explain his stance on foreign policy, and called Paul’s efforts to curtail the War on Drugs “music to my ears.”
During the interview, Maher signaled that independents like himself and others in key states might be able to support Paul, should he decide to run for president in 2016.
“I am available to the Rand Paul campaign,” Maher said, but cautioned Paul on the Republican Party’s stance on environmentalism. Paul pushed back against over-regulation and expressed concern for the loss of jobs over restrictive regulations. Paul applauded advancements in renewable energy, but stressed the importance of continuing to use resources like coal and natural gas. Paul noted he was working on a bill to help deregulate the renewable energy industry, so more Americans could access “green” energy alternatives.
Twitter reacted postively to Paul’s appearance. Many tweets came from self-described Democrats who had previously not been open to Paul’s message: