On Friday's broadcast of the online-only "Overtime" segment from the HBO program Real Time host Bill Maher told his panel he thought President Obama "modulates" his positions based on "fear of assassination." Maher surprised MSNBC's Chris Matthews, a guest on this week's panel.
BILL MAHER: It seems like the people like that, Kennedy, they just seem to always, at the end of the day, somehow get cut out of the picture -- violently, or otherwise -- and maybe that is why Barack Obama is a little more of a centrist than we want him to be.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You think that?
MAHER: Well, I think he knows that if he goes a little too far to the left --
MAHER: Well, yeah.
MATTHEWS: I'm just really curious that you think that.
MAHER: Well, if I were Barack --
MATTHEWS: That's an extraordinary statement.
MAHER: What? You don't think --
MATTHEWS: I'm just saying that's an extraordinary statement. I'm amazed -- I'm impressed you think that.
MAHER: Think what?
MATTHEWS: That his policies are driven by fear of assassination.
MAHER: Well, not by fear of assassination.
JAMES GLASSMAN: Is that what you said?
MATTHEWS: Then by what?
MAHER: Well, I'm saying that yeah --
MATTHEWS: I thought you just said that.
MAHER: I didn't say it in those words.
MATTHEWS: Well, I would try and clarify.
MAHER: Well, I'm saying that, yeah, I think that's something that probably [Obama] thinks about at night, yeah. Wouldn't you?
MATTHEWS: That he has to change his policies for that reason?
MAHER: No! But I think that he is a centrist. I think people saw him as what they wanted to see him. They saw a liberal, and he was never really that much of a liberal. And to call him a socialist, is completely --
CAROL ROTH, CNBC: I don't think that anybody who is in the center or at the right would think that he is a centrist. You might think that, but everybody else doesn't think that.
MAHER: I don't think that is an insult to say to somebody that he may modulate his policies because he is afraid of all the hate that he sees.
MATTHEWS: He probably gets reports constantly about threats, though. That must anerve him.
MAHER: He probably doesn't read them. I don't read my hate mail.