The O'Reilly Factor host says the upcoming debates will be "the Super Bowl of politics"

By Dave Quinn
Updated June 08, 2016 04:30 PM
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Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/Getty

Bill O’Reilly is looking forward to the upcoming presidential election.

The O Reilly Factor host sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for a lengthy interview published on Wednesday, saying this summer’s conventions are going to be a “cage match” between presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The debates will tell the tale,” O’Reilly said. “They will be the most-watched debates in the history of the country by far. It will be like the Super Bowl of politics.”

“My job is to basically tell folks what’s going on in real time, not project out in a speculative way,” the 66-year-old added. “[Trump] established himself as a no-BS guy. So the rules of engagement are very different with a Trump-Hillary run. It has nothing to do with her gender. It has to do with a suspicion on the part of many Americans that she’s not candid. Trump is running on candor. She is running a traditional, cautious [campaign]. So there is a contrast. So how he goes after her is going to be interesting to see.

One tactic O’Reilly would recommend the #ImWithHer candidate stay away from? Gender. “If I were her, I wouldn t bother with the gender issue,” he said. “It’s fairly apparent she’s a woman and he’s a man, and her policies should be unisex, helping all Americans.”

O’Reilly has been friends with Trump, 69, since 1990, who he called a “smart” and “very aggressive” guy. “[He was] pretty bombastic then, and he’s bombastic now.”

Still, despite being a fierce conservative commentator, O’Reilly’s political advice crosses party lines. “I take calls from all politicians, by the way. It’s off the record, but if they ask me a question, I’ll give them an honest answer.”

He’s been supportive of Clinton, 68, in the past, publicly defending the former New York senator when she she received backlash after telling ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and former president Bill Clinton “came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.”

“The jackals swarmed,” O’Reilly explained, of his defense. “And I’m saying hold it, when you come from a place where she came from you see money differently, because I come from that place. And she appreciated that. But see that’s the kind of thing that I’ll do. I’m not in the business of ideology.”

“I don’t ever attack the Clintons personally. I talk to them both on the phone, stuck up for her when I felt it was necessary,” he added.

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O’Reilly said he maintains a “cordial” relationship with Clinton, and hopes she’ll come on his popular Fox show – which THR reports has been the highest-rated show on cable news for the past 14 years – to defend herself against her critics.

“I didn’t think that Trump could have overcome her, but to watch the negatives pile up on her doorstep; Hillary Clinton has got a lot of work to do,” O’Reilly said. “She should be on my program, she should be on other programs trying to say to people, ‘Look, I’m not the monster they’re trying to make me out to be. This is who I really am.’ ”

“[Trump]’s lucky he’s up against somebody whom his crew doesn’t like,” O’Reilly continued. “Hillary Clinton is not a sympathetic figure. Now, he may make her into one if he overdoes it.”

As for Trump’s vicious attack of former president Bill Clinton’s past transgressions, O’Reilly thinks everything is fair game depending on the content.

“If Hillary Clinton is going to attack Trump and say he’s misogynistic, what does she expect? He’s going to come right back at her with this, and who wouldn’t?” O’Reilly explained. “If you’re going to go after him and say he’s this, that and the other thing, he’s going to come back 10,000 times harder, so why bother?”

The O’Reilly Factor airs weekdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox News.