Stephen Colbert, as the host of CBS' "The Late Show," makes a living, in part, by cracking jokes at the expense of political figures. And the 2016 election, dominated on the Republican side by a figure as colorful as Donald Trump, has provided plenty of fodder for late-night humor. But Colbert acknowledges there is at least one thing about Trump that genuinely appeals to him.
"There's a populism to Trump that I found very appealing," Colbert told "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson in an interview that will be broadcast this Sunday. "The party elders would like him to go away but the people have decided that he is not going to."
"I may disagree with anything that he's saying and think that his proposals are a little...well, more than a little shocking," Colbert added. "But there is something really hopeful about the fact that, well, 36 percent of the likely voters want him so the people in the machine don't get to say otherwise. That's the one saving grace, I think, of his candidacy."
"There sounded like there's a little bit of Trump respect in you for his ability to channel the populist," Dickerson told Colbert.
"What I do respect is that he knows it is an emotional appeal," Colbert explained. "And it might be emotional appeals that I can't respect. But he knows that you have to appeal to the voter. And that's why, I may be wrong - I made a big deal about there's no way he's gonna win."
"You weren't the only one," Dickerson observed.
"Yeah, again, I don't know anything about politics," Colbert added.
"Yeah, but you do know about the country," Dickerson interjected. "You have a sense of where the country is. You have a sense. And I wonder how you get that now."
"That's one of the reasons I stopped the old show is that I had a sense where the country is," explained Colbert, who rose to prominence as the host of "The Colbert Report," a Comedy Central show that satirized conservative punditry. "I think people don't really want constant divisiveness. I really don't think they want that. And that's what I was aping. And I thought, 'Ah, I can't really drink that cup anymore. Cause I don't think people really want to hear it.'"
You can see more of John Dickerson's interview with Stephen Colbert this Sunday on "Face the Nation." Check your local listings for airtimes.