Fox News' Bill O'Reilly told Donald Trump Wednesday he thought the candidate was making a mistake by not appearing on the Fox News debate Jan. 28, saying he was missing an opportunity to persuade people he was a strong leader.
Trump had been scheduled to appear on The O'Reilly Factor before his decision not to do the debate, which he suggested was a combination of his low opinion of moderator Megyn Kelly and a mocking statement issued by a Fox News spokesperson.
O'Reilly said he thought the Fox press release was satirical and clever.
O'Reilly said he did not feel Kelly's questioning in the original debate was out of bounds. Trump disagreed, but O'Reilly said that Trump should do the debate so he could "stand up and let them have it."
O'Reilly gave Trump props for not backing out of the interview under the circumstances, saying he did not know any other candidate who would have. But he said he did not think bailing on the debate was good for America.
O'Reilly also tried to get Trump to reconsider the decision not to appear in the debate, but the candidate said he was sticking with his plans to instead hold a rally to raise money for the troops. He did say the decision to skip the debate was "up to Fox, not me," but did not elaborate on whether that meant the mocking statement, Kelly's moderator status, or something else. But he also pointed out there had been six debates already and maybe it was time to move on.
Trump, in declining to talk about reconsidering, pointed out that he had asked O'Reilly not to ask him that, but O'Reilly said no news organization could allow candidates to dictate coverage.