O'Reilly: It doesn't matter who GOP candidate is

Bill O'Reilly on "CBS This Morning."
Bill O'Reilly on "CBS This Morning."

(CBS News) Bill O'Reilly, famed host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" said "it doesn't matter" who the conservative presidential candidate is, because the GOP will back him no matter what because he will stand in opposition to President Barack Obama.

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"The (GOP) despise(s) Barack Obama so much, it doesn't matter who it is," O'Reilly said Thursday on "CBS This Morning." "They're going to vote against...Barack Obama not for somebody."

When asked if conservatives would have the have the same enthusiasm for another candidate, O'Reilly said, "It doesn't matter, it's the lever you pull. Whether you're pulling it hard or you're pulling it soft, it gets pulled."

After winning the latest Republican primaries this week, frontrunner Mitt Romney said he's now focused on the November election. And so is President Barack Obama, with his re-election campaign announcing he will speak at two campaign rallies next Saturday.

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The debates, according to O'Reilly, are going to be decisive in this election. "Whoever does better in the three (debates) will win," he said. "That's how close it's gonna be."

(Below, watch the "60 Minutes" profile on O'Reilly.)

Who is the better debater? O'Reilly said, "It's hard to say. I've interviewed Barack Obama twice and I got to tell you, the guy is quick. I've interviewed Mitt Romney maybe four times. The governor is much more studied, much more rehearsed."

So does "quick" or "studied" win?

O'Reilly said it would be hard to say, then added, "This week has been Romney's best week. You know, all of that, you know, 'I'm getting attacked by Gingrich, this one, that one,' that's all gone. He's much more confident. His speech writers are good. Whether he can bring his 'A'-game up against a guy that's naturally quick, Obama - he's quick, I don't know."

Romney, O'Reilly said, is channeling Ronald Reagan in his campaign strategy. "He's going to run the exact same campaign that Reagan ran in 1980 against Carter," O'Reilly said. "He started this week, You're better off than you were four years ago. I'm sure they're watching tapes right now of how Reagan handled Carter. It's almost the same - it's eerie, the bad economy, liberal president, gas prices through the roof, they gas lines back in Carter, and here comes Romney, he looks like Reagan, got the hair going on, he's got the authority, he's a governor. It's eerie. So, whatever Reagan did in '80, you can count on Romney doing this year."

But, O'Reilly said, Obama is not like Carter, who was "hapless and defeated" during that 1980 campaign. "Barack Obama is not defeated and he's a much better campaigner," O'Reilly said.

"I expect it's going to be a nasty campaign. However, it's going to be done by surrogates," O'Reilly said. "Romney's not going to do it, and Obama's not going to do it. But their (political action committees) are going to go in and slaughter the opposition. So, it's going to be very intense."

In addition to interest in the president of the future, O'Reilly has an interest in the past. He's the author of the bestselling book "Killing Lincoln."

O'Reilly called Lincoln the nation's best president. "I wrote the book because I wanted to show America what true leadership is. Because we need true leadership," O'Reilly said. "This isn't a party thing for me. I'm an independent. I selected Abraham Lincoln, I'm a history major, because I admire the man and I know the pain he went through to lead the country out of the division it was in and to win the Civil War."

When asked about himself and why people are drawn to him on TV, O'Reilly said he brings "authenticity" to his cable audience. "You like me or you don't. That's OK," he said. "I don't mind if you don't like me, but you know when I say something, I mean it. And I try to back it up with facts. And we're authentic. I haven't changed, when I worked at Channel 2 in New York, they hired me because I was a rough hewn guy out of Levittown. I knew the area and I knew the city. I haven't changed. People are looking for authenticity in a sea of phoneys on television."

When asked if he sees authenticity in Romney, he said, "It's hard for me say. I've known the governor for a long time. I think he did a decent job in Massachusetts. Is he authentic? He's a politician."

And what about Mr. Obama - is he authentic?

O'Reilly said, "Somewhat. But again, he's a politician. You know, these guys are going to tell you what they think you want to hear. You know, are they bold and fresh like me? No."

O'Reilly recently inked a new, three-year deal with Fox News. "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News has been the most-watched cable news program for more than decade.

Watch Bill O'Reilly's full "CBS This Morning" interview in the video above.