The "Late Show" host, who used to parody a conservative talk show personality on his Comedy Central show, said in a new interview released Wednesday that the GOP front-runner's ability to pull in disaffected voters is special.
"There's a populism to Trump that I found very appealing," Colbert told CBS' "Face the Nation." "The party elders would like him to go away, but the people have decided that he is not going to."
In a clip
of the interview, which will be aired in full on Sunday, Colbert went on to say that he wasn't endorsing Trump's policies.
"I may disagree with anything that he's saying and think that his proposals are a little, well, more than a little shocking," Colbert said. "But there is something really hopeful about the fact that, well, 36% of the likely voters want it so the people in the machine don't get to say otherwise. That's the one saving grace, I think, of his candidacy."
Colbert said he had predicted Trump could never win the race, but admitted he may be wrong.
The comedian said Trump understands he's making an "emotional appeal" to the electorate, which is respectable.
"It might be emotional appeals that I can't respect, but he knows that you have to appeal to the voter," Colbert said.
But he cautioned: "I don't know anything about politics."