Former first lady Laura Bush said in an interview airing Monday that some Republican candidates in 2012 "frightened" women, but she doesn't think the party should rethink its emphasis on social issues.

"There were obvious examples of candidates that were -- that I think frightened some women," Bush said in an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front." "But they were the exception, rather than the norm in the party."

Bush, who has come out in support of gay marriage and abortion rights in recent years, nonetheless said there should be room for debate about social issues in the GOP. (Bush recently asked that video of her be removed from an ad promoting gay marriage.)

"All of those social issues are very, very heartfelt by people, and I understand that," she said. "There are differences, and people -- there just will be. And I'm glad that in our party, we have room for all of them. I think that's important too."

Two top GOP Senate hopefuls, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Indiana's Richard Mourdock, both fell victim to controversial comments about rape and pregnancy, and the party as a whole fared poorly among women, who stuck by President Obama more than most groups between 2008 and 2012.