Dan Rather slams Trump and Ted Cruz for 'confusing the bully pulpit with the BS pulpit'
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather appears on 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on Dec. 10, 2015. (MSNBC)

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather argued on Wednesday that Donald Trump has put Republicans on their heels with his presidential campaign, while also slamming the rhetoric that has taken the mogul to the top of GOP polls.

"We need to see clearly what's happening here," he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. "Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and the like, they're confusing the bully pulpit with the BS pulpit. I'm convinced that both Trump and Ted Cruz -- not limited to them in the Republican Party -- believe that if you can't convince people with substance, then you blind them with BS. And with Trump, it's worked fairly well."

While part of Trump's appeal, he said, is that he plays on voters' fears regarding terrorism, he was unwilling to agree with Maddow in calling his campaign fascist. At the same time, however, Rather compared the GOP frontrunner to racially-inflammatory candidates of the past.

"He's related to the candidacy of the late George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, if you will. Huey Long," Rather said. "He's in that line. We've not been -- as a people, as a country, as a society -- in this territory before."

Rather did agree with Maddow, though, that Trump's success -- and the fear that he may run as an independent if he is not "treated fairly" -- has Republican leaders befuddled.

"They're walking on eggshells, to use the cliche. And frankly they don't know what to do," the former CBS Evening News host said. "They don't know whether to howl at the moon or check their emails. They just simply don't know what to do about him."

Watch Maddow's interview with Rather, as aired on Wednesday, below.