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"What Trump is doing is appealing to the baser instincts among us -- xenophobia, and, frankly, racism," Sanders said

Sanders stayed on message throughout the interview, a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton's "Tonight Show" appearance

(CNN) —  

Bernie Sanders brushed aside comparisons Friday night between his anti-establishment presidential campaign and Donald Trump’s, telling “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert that the real estate mogul is relying on racism to fuel his front-runner status among Republicans.

“What Trump is doing is appealing to the baser instincts among us – xenophobia, and, frankly, racism,” Sanders said. “You target some group of people, you go after them. You take people’s anger and you turn it against them. You win votes on that. I think that is disgraceful and not something we should be doing in 2015.”

RELATED: Hillary Clinton sits down with Jimmy Fallon playing Donald Trump

Sanders stayed on message throughout the interview, a stark contrast to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s “Tonight Show” appearance earlier this week, when she sought to share a different, funnier version of herself to voters.

Sanders, however, said “20, 30, 40%” of people don’t know who he is or what he’s fighting for. On Friday, he used his appearance on network television to deliver his socialist message of economic fairness, delivered in his typical gruff tone.

“I knew we had a message that would resonate with the American people,” Sanders told Colbert when asked about his surging campaign. “This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and yet all of the income and wealth is going to the top 1% and people do not feel good about that.”

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Colbert asked Sanders why he would want the United States to more closely resemble a Scandinavian country.

“Clearly, we want a society that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation,” Sanders responded. “But what we also want is a society in which all of our people can enjoy a decent standard of living and not a society in which the very rich get much richer while virtually everybody else gets poorer.”

CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.