RNC Chairman: Donald Trump could be good for our party

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted that billionaire businessman and presidential candidate Donald Trump could actually help bring voters into the GOP with his brazen rhetoric that has at times gotten him into trouble.

"It's raw and I think it's real and I think that people are upset with government, I think they're upset with both parties...Donald Trump's tapping into that," Priebus said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "I actually think it could be quite good for our party because I think what you're seeing is a lot of people people that were frustrated with politics are saying, 'Well maybe I've got an outlet here.' And if they're coming and tuning into our debate tomorrow night and getting involved in our party I think that that ultimately could be very helpful."

Last month, Priebus called Trump to say he should soften his controversial comments that Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, which Trump refused to do. Other Republican candidates have condemned his remarks in the past, with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry calling Trump's entire presidential bid a "cancer on conservatism." Jeb Bush said there should be "no tolerance" for his views on immigrants.

As the clear leader in the polls among the large field of Republican presidential candidates, Trump will be at the center of the stage for the first Republican debate Thursday evening in Cleveland. Fox News announced Tuesday which 10 Republicans -- the best performers in recent national polls -- will be on the main debate stage. The other seven GOP candidates will participate in a second-tier debate earlier in the afternoon.

"Every candidate's going to have to use every tiny second they have to make an impact, get right to the answer. There's not going to be a lot of wasted time...every candidates going to have to bring their A game and it has to be done quickly and concisely," Priebus said.

He also weighed in on Republican candidate Jeb Bush's assertion Tuesday night that, "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues." Bush later said he was referring just to the $500 million in government funds that go to Planned Parenthood each year, saying "I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women's health organizations that need to be fully funded."

The remarks drew swift condemnation from Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but Priebus said it's "a little bit of a much ado about nothing."

"He said he misspoke. Obviously I think he did and he fixed it," Priebus said. "There's no doubt you have to correct things like that but they did and I think they're going to move on and it's important to be careful, no doubt."

But the RNC chairman declined to weigh in on the growing debate inside the GOP about whether it's worth shutting down the government in fall in order to defund Planned Parenthood. He said his role was had more to do with party operations so "it wouldn't be wise" for him to get involved.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.