In a recent episode of his HBO show “Real Time,” liberal comedian Bill Maher took a jab at California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, suggesting that they are quietly pursuing presidential ambitions. As he put it, they are running “shadow campaigns.”

Maher’s comments came during a conversation with Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who recently joined the Democratic presidential primary race against President Joe Biden.

He praised Phillip’s decision to challenge Biden in the 2024 presidential bid. “We both struggle with the same thing. We like Joe Biden, right? And we think he’s done a good job. Ruth Bader Ginsburg did a good job and did not know when to quit, and that’s why you’re here,” he said.

That’s when Newsom’s name came in as Maher added, “And it’s not like others are doing this in a — sort of a — shadow campaign. I mean, Gavin Newsom, our governor, seems to be all over the world. You know, they’re going to the battleground states in the primary — they’re really doing it, but I feel like at least you are honest, and you’re saying, ‘No, I’m gonna do it.’ Just do it.”

Phillips then mentioned Whitmer, revealing that he tried to persuade her to enter the race but without success. “And she’s one of those who’s running a shadow campaign,” Maher pointed out.

Phillips then raised a sobering point about the future of American elections, stating, “Everybody’s waiting until 2028. And I’m making the contention to all of you tonight that I’m not sure that we will have a 2028 election in the way that we expect to happen if the inevitable happens and it is President Biden against Donald Trump.”

“I mean, the numbers are astounding everybody. If we don’t start to acknowledge that — there’s this bizarre and very dangerous culture of silence in Washington, in certain political-industrial complex circles, that is dangerous — I mean, dangerous. And we’re putting blinders on. It’ll make 2016 look like a joyful year,” he added.

Maher and Phillips agreed that more competition in the Democratic primary would be welcome in light of Phillips’ revelation that the basic requirements for becoming a candidate do not go beyond being a U.S.-born citizen, being up to 35 years old and having a $1,000 check. 

“It’s still not too late to jump into this race,” Phillips urged, expressing frustration at the reluctance of potential candidates to step forward. He revealed that many colleagues were discussing this issue privately, saying, “You know, when I say every most of my colleagues talk about this every day in hushed tones in the hallways, it’s saying the quiet part out loud.”

Maher, a longtime Biden stan, has been nursing doubts about the president’s chances in the 2024 election when paired against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. During a conversation with Democratic strategist James Carville, he admitted to his shaky belief in Biden’s candidacy, saying, “I think now he’s the only one who will lose to him,” referring to Trump.