Donald Trump battles Bill O'Reilly over Vladimir Putin's "gangster" image: "Bill, he's a tough guy!"

O'Reilly also tries to deflate Trump's "Operation Wetback"-style deportation fantasy: "It could never happen today"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published November 12, 2015 4:47PM (EST)

  (Fox News)
(Fox News)

"I need some stuff clarified tonight," Bill O'Reilly began during his post-GOP debate interview with Donald Trump Wednesday evening. "Do you know Putin personally? Do you know him?"

At Tuesday's Fox Business Channel debate, Trump boasted that he'd become acquainted with the Russian president when they both appeared on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" on the same evening.

"No, I don't," know him, Trump confessed. "I was on '60 Minutes' with him four weeks ago. I didn't shoot it at the same time. They did him and then they did me," Trump explained to O'Reilly.

"So you never met him?" O'Reilly confirmed.

"I call us stable mates but we never met," Trump conceded to the "Factor" host.

O'Reilly then teased Trump about his grand proclamations that he could win over the Russian president: "Maybe give him a golf membership."

The host then tried to get serious with the over-the-top Republican frontrunner, reminding the businessman that unlike him, Putin "doesn't make deals he just rolls soldiers in to cause destruction and shoots down airplanes."

"All indications are that he is a gangster."

"That's because he's given the opportunity. I mean, the people we have that represent us don't know what they are doing," Trump argued. "He doesn't like President Obama at all. And I understand that. They have a very bad chemistry and that can happen. In all fairness, I have that with certain people, too. I don't have that with you but I have it with plenty of people. I will say that I think we could be -- I think we could get along together."

Trump's suspension of reality continued into the second part of the interview where O'Reilly pressed him on his unworkable mass deportation plan, comparing it to President Eisenhower's 1954 forced deportation program.

"Do you know what the program was called?" O'Reilly asked Trump.

"I do, but I wouldn't use the term. I don't like the term," Trump replied, referring to the offensive "wetback" slur.

"Believe me when I tell you, Mr. Trump, that was brutal what they did to those people to kick them back," O'Reilly went on, attempting to persuade Trump to craft a more compassionate immigration proposal. "The stuff they did was really brutal."

"We would do it in a very humane way," Trump insisted.

Watch their sparring over Putin below and Trump's "brutal" mass deportation plan:

Donald Trump Makes Fun Of Hillary's Hair

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia Tesfaye