Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday that Donald Trump’s recent comments on Mexican immigrants were “not helpful.” 

 Trump has said repeatedly that most of the migrants crossing the southern border into the United States from Mexico are rapists or drug dealers. The specious claim cost Trump his relationship with the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, which will no longer air the Miss USA pageant.

 “Some comments can be helpful, some comments can be hurtful,” Priebus said at a press conference outside George Mason University’s Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. “Those particular comments, not helpful.”  

But, Priebus said, “it’s not my decision” who runs for president as a Republican: “We don’t get to pick and choose who runs, who doesn’t.”

The comments come as Republicans work to expand their support among Hispanic voters, particularly in swing states such as Nevada, Florida, New Mexico and Colorado. 

 In primary polling, Trump has been performing relatively well, increasing his chances of appearing on stage at a Republican debate. Priebus emphasized that the question of which candidates in the crowded GOP field will participate in debates will be decided by an impartial process, not by party leadership. 

 “Whichever candidates make that process cut-off, they’re going to be on the stage,” he said.  “We’re going to run  fair, clean primary system …and however the thing shakes out, that's the way its going to shake out.”