'Be the bigger man': Bill O'Reilly confronts Donald Trump over debate boycott in combative interview

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Fox News host Bill O'Reilly confronted Donald Trump on Wednesday over the Republican presidential front-runner's high-profile boycott of Fox's primary debate.

O'Reilly repeatedly told Trump that he was making a "big mistake" by skipping out on Fox's Thursday-night debate.

"You're running for president. I believe you want to improve the country. I believe that personally," the host told Trump.

SEE ALSO: Michael Moore hadn't been on Fox News in 6 years and he had 3 words for Megyn Kelly

He added: "You lose an opportunity to persuade people that you are a strong leader."

The real-estate mogul announced that he was refusing to participate in the Fox debate on Thursday, after a back and forth between himself and the network.

Trump repeatedly and loudly complained that one of the moderators will be Megyn Kelly, whom he has been attacking since August, when she was one of the moderators in the first Fox-hosted debate. At the time, Kelly angered Trump by questioning him about the disparaging comments he's made about women's appearances.

O'Reilly defended Kelly during his Trump interview.

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'Be the bigger man': Bill O'Reilly confronts Donald Trump over debate boycott in combative interview
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Talk Show Host Bill O'Reilly is seen on October 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0263 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill O'Reilly and host Jimmy Fallon on May 14, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Author Bill O'Reilly attends the 'Killing Jesus' World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: (L-R) The cast of Nat Geo's 'Killing Jesus' Haaz Sleiman, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Leonidas, Alexis Rodney, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Joe Doyle, Chris Ryman and Kelsey Grammer pose with 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly (C) at the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for National Geographic Channel)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: 'Killing Jesus' book author, Bill O'Reilly attends the red carpet event and world premiere of National Geographic Channel's 'Killing Jesus' at Alice Tully Hall on March 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Bill O'Reilly, host of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, waits for the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama during an event about Obama's 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative in the East Room at the White House February 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. As part of his 'Year of Action,' Obama announced a $200 million commitment from nine foundations to bolster the education and employment of young men and boys of color. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: (L-R) TV Personalites Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly attend An Evening with Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera at 92nd Street Y on June 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
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THE VIEW - (10.1.13) Today's guest co-host is Jason Biggs ('Orange is the New Black.') Guests include Bill OReilly (author, Killing Jesus); Matt Long and Lorraine Bruce (ABC's 'Lucky 7') on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) BARBARA WALTERS, BILL O'REILLY
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"Kelly's question was within journalistic bounds," O'Reilly said after saying that he would have asked a similar question had he moderated the debate.

"In your Christian faith, there is a very significant tenet. And that's the tenet of forgiveness," O'Reilly later told Trump.

He added:

And I think you should forgive not only journalists who come at you in ways you don't like, but I think you should be the bigger man and say, 'You know what? I didn't like it. ... But I'm not going to take any action against it.' Don't you think that's the right thing to do?

Trump said he subscribed to a different tenet.

"It probably is. But it's called an 'eye for an eye,' I guess, also. You can look at it that way," he told O'Reilly.

"No, no, no, no," O'Reilly shot back. "If you're the Christian, the 'eye for the eye' rule goes out. Here's what it is: Turning the other cheek."

O'Reilly then tried appealing to Trump's patriotism, but also failed on that front.

"Come on! It's about the country!" he said.

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'Be the bigger man': Bill O'Reilly confronts Donald Trump over debate boycott in combative interview
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Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, gestures to attendees during a campaign event in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Trump said he's campaigning hard to win Tuesday's presidential primary in Indiana and that if he prevails, his party's nomination contest will be 'over.' Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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HICKORY, NC - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, talks with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, during a campaign rally at Lenoir-Rhyne University March 14, 2016 in Hickory, North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Business mogul Donald Trump arrives at a press event where he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in Clive, Iowa, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures to supporters as he departs a campaign rally in Clive, Iowa, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Trump said that instead of doing the debate, he was hosting an event to benefit veterans on Thursday night. O'Reilly offered to team with Trump to host a larger event on behalf of veterans, but he did not appear to win over the mogul.

Later in the interview, O'Reilly asked Trump if he would "reconsider" his stance. Trump suggested that they had an agreement beforehand that he would not ask that question.

"Even though you and I had an agreement that you wouldn't ask me that, which we did ... it's up to Fox," Trump said. "It's not up to me, Bill."

O'Reilly finished their exchange by complimenting Trump for coming onto the network for the interview despite his complaints about Fox. Trump said earlier that he wouldn't have done the interview, but he agreed last week to do it and didn't want to break his word.

"I don't know any politician under these circumstances," O'Reilly said, "that would've come on and did what you did here tonight."

Watch part of the segment below:

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