Bill O’Reilly paced the stage at the Orpheum Saturday night. A tall figure in a navy jacket and off white pants, O’Reilly knew he was in friendly territory with a conservative audience. That’s not something he always gets on his show or by critics.
His voice slightly hoarse – a condition he said came upon him after he got off the plane (Memphians certainly understand our allergy predicament) – O’Reilly had some advice for next year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates.
“Stay away from the social issues! Don’t go near them! You’re not going to win with them. There are two things to highlight: the economy and killing the bastards overseas,” he said. “That’s all they need to talk about.”
O’Reilly had an interesting take on the 2012 election. “I think deep down Romney didn’t want to win,” he said. Then he went on to explain. “The polling by the candidates and the polling we had showed Romney ahead the week before the election. Then Hurricane Sandy blew in.” O’Reilly said he watched as Obama and Republican Governor Chris Christie went out together to view the damage. He wondered where Romney was.
“I decided to give each candidate a full hour on the Factor Friday and Monday before the election. We contacted the Obama people and they said no. We contacted the Romney people and they didn’t answer. I didn’t understand. Finally I called Ann Romney. I had her personal cell phone number and left a message. Here I was offering an hour’s free TV time. She said he didn’t have time.”
O’Reilly said he wondered where Romney was that last week, as he didn’t have much of a presence. It is perplexing, because Mormons are usually prompt at addressing a natural disaster and adept at getting help to people quickly. O’Reilly said he just had to conclude that deep down Mitt Romney didn’t really want to be president. I think he had a valid analysis.
O’Reilly shared another anecdote about the Romneys. He said he had been invited to go to a baseball game with them in Boston. He arrived and son Tagg greeted him (he commented that you have to make a million dollars just to call one of your children “Tagg”). Mitt was wearing a “yellow sweater knotted over a pale blue shirt and his hair was perfect. He must have the best hair ever.” They sat down in a box and a peanut vendor came around. Everyone got some. “You know how peanuts (in the shell) are. You open them and all this red stuff comes flying out and gets all over you. Not when Mitt opened his. Nothing got on him at all.” Perhaps he was a little too far from the average guy and his experience.
O’Reilly bemoaned the loss of power the U.S. has suffered under Obama. In the Bush years, “our enemies must have paused when Cheney shot his best friend. Can’t you just hear them? ‘That guy shot his best friend. What do you think he’d do to us?'”
In the last half hour of the show, Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly came on stage together and answered questions the audience had submitted earlier. They were asked what one thing would they change if they could. Miller demurred, but O’Reilly waded in.
“I’d change the education system,” he said. “First, every kid would wear a uniform. There would be rules posted on the walls of each classroom regarding behavior. Kids would have to do their homework. If they didn’t they’d have to stay at school until they did,” he said.
Someone asked him about appearing on “The View.” “Barbara Walters and I go way back,” he said. “We both worked at ABC. When she asked me to come on to talk about one of my books, I accepted.” He has a particular loathing for former View panelist Joy Behar. Not too keen on Whoopie either. He described how he worked against a mosque being built at Ground Zero. The ladies didn’t like that. “All of a sudden several of them got up and left. Just left the stage,” he said. He couldn’t understand why they would be so offended. “It wasn’t Norwegians who attacked us. It was Muslims,” O’Reilly commented.
With that, the show ended. They did a terrific job and it was nice to see them in person and to hear the anecdotes they do not talk about on TV.
No wonder they sell out wherever they go.