Bernie Sanders on Thursday night made the case that he can serve as leader of the Democratic Party, but also called on the party to be more inclusive. 

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The Vermont senator, who identifies as a democratic socialist, acknowledged that he's been serving in Congress as an Independent but touted the fact that he was elected to leadership roles in the upper chamber by Democrats.
 
“It’s not to be denied that I am the longest serving independent in the history of the Congress," Sanders said at MSNBC’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire just five days ahead of the Granite State primary. 

“I was elected by the Democrats to be the chair of the Veterans Committee," he continued. “I am now the ranking member of the Budget Committee.” 

Sanders went on to call for a 50-state strategy that includes embracing the entire nation and encouraged the Democratic Party to reach out to more young and working-class Americans. 

“I am running for the president as a Democrat," he continued. "But I do want to see major changes in the Democratic Party.” 

“I want a 50-state strategy so that the Democratic Party is not just the party of 25 states," Sanders said. “I want to see more young people and working-class people coming into the party then are presently coming in now.” 

Clinton and Sanders are locked in a heated primary battle. The former first lady edged out Sanders at Monday’s night Iowa caucuses by a razor-thin margin and the Vermont senator is the prohibitive favorite to win the New Hampshire primary.