President Obama hit the airwaves Friday night on both HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher and All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC. With only days remaining until Election Day, the president took the time to record in-depth interviews with Maher and MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton to discuss issues such as marijuana reform, health care, and his fears of what a Trump presidency would mean for the country. The president’s appearance on Real Time follows a long and very public campaign from Maher and his viewers calling for Obama to appear on the show. According to The Hollywood Reporter, over 320,000 viewers signed Maher's petition for an interview with the president.
During the interview, Maher asked Obama directly about his thoughts on marijuana reform. “You and I have both made jokes about it,” Maher said, “But it’s not funny to the people who get arrested.” The comedian/political commentator followed up by saying, “You and I both could have had our lives ruined, not really by smoking it, but by being arrested.” Obama doesn’t disagree with Maher, but his opinions are more nuanced than simple legalization. The president views the issue as a matter of public health, similar to that of tobacco. He would like to see the government tackle more public education surrounding marijuana and alcohol use and treat it in similar ways to the “enormous public-health effort” made around cigarettes.
On MSNBC with Rev. Sharpton, the president opened up about his fears that a Trump Presidency would undo much of the good work accomplished during his time in the White House — not to mention all the hard work by first lady Michelle Obama. “If you supported me in '08, if you supported me in '12, if you think that I've done a good job, if you believe that Michelle has done a good job — everything that we've done over the last eight years will be reversed with a Trump presidency," Obama explained. According to him, the opposite of that would happen with Hillary Clinton in the White House. “And everything will be sustained and built on with a Hillary Clinton presidency,” he says. He tells Sharpton that he would “fear for the future of our country” if he had to stand on the steps of the Capitol and transition the presidency to Trump.
During both interviews, President Obama stressed the importance of voting and noted that a non-vote is still a vote. “Who votes doesn’t always match up with the attitudes of the majority,” he said to Sharpton. In case anyone on either side hasn’t realized what this election means, President Obama makes it clear in his closing moments with Maher: “The stakes are high.”