Painting Donald Trump as some sort of political vampire, Bill Maher Friday said that Fox News “tried to put a stake in him, and I don’t think they” succeeded. Speaking on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, which returned Friday after a brief summer hiatus, Maher complimented Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for asking Trump some tough questions during Thursday’s record-setting Republican debate, but seemed to agree with the aggrieved Trump’s post-debate whining about being picked on by the conservative network. “I am quite sure Roger Ailes who runs (Fox) and maybe America, he doesn’t like Trump,” Maher said. “The word came down, Get Trump, kill this f**king Rosemary’s Baby monster in its black crib.'”

Maher told his guests, who included Republican strategists Mary Matalin and Steve Schmidt — neither of whom gave full-throated support to the real-estate mogul — that Trump shouldn’t be underestimated, and compared the current front-runner with Ronald Reagan circa 1968. When Reagan first floated the bubble of running, “it was a joke, like c’mon, he has a stupid television show, he’s divorced, he avoided combat, he’s got weird hair and crazy face paint. So for all those people who say Donald Trump could not go all the way, I don’t think they’re right.”

Of course Maher — who was sued by the birther Trump last year after demanding to see proof that his father was not an orangutan — was not about to give ground on the insults, calling Trump “a ham-colored cartoon character from I Love the ’80s.”

Schmidt, who opined that much of what Trump says is “nonsense,”conceded that the candidate has successfully tapped into a widespread anger, while Matalin commended Trump for standing up against “government incompetence.” California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom said Trump’s appeal is beginning to wear thin and that his policy positions have “the form and substance of fog.”

Maher also took aim at Trump’s “thin skin” – a common allegation addressed (and on full display) earlier in the evening during a phone interview on CNN Tonight With Don Lemon. “I’m not thin-skinned at all,” Trump insisted to Lemon, while also continuing his diatribes against Fox’s Megyn Kelly, adding “I could tell you other things about Megyn Kelly that would be very harsh.”

Lemon, obsequious and unchallenging throughout the softball interview (CNN hosts the next Republican debate on September 16), didn’t pursue Trump’s veiled threat against Kelly, and could only muster a smile and surprised look when Trump said, “I can’t believe you are not beating her in the ratings. You should be ashamed of yourself.” Lemon actually  seemed sincere when, at the end of the interview, he told Trump “You’re welcome to come cohost with me anytime.”