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Clinton camp to meet with progressive critics

Hillary's critics on the left may finally have the opportunity they've been waiting for.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sits in the audience at a meeting during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Sept. 23, 2014. (Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times/Redux)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sits in the audience at a meeting during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Sept. 23, 2014.

Hillary's critics on the left may finally have the opportunity they've been waiting for.

Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups most closely associated with the so-called “Warren wing of the Democratic Party,” said his organization reached out to Clinton’s camp before the election and that a meeting was coming “very soon.”

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He declined to name the Clinton advisers with whom he’s been in contact, saying discussions have so far been limited to "conversations about having conversations." “We want to keep as open a line of communication with Hillary Clinton and her team as possible,” he told msnbc.

The meeting will hopefully be a precursor to a larger summit with more progressive leaders and Clinton herself. “The more the merrier,” Green said. “Individual meetings are useful, but progressive movement-wide meetings would be really smart for her.”

Their message is that Clinton should adopt the kind of economic inequality issues championed by Warren, both for substantive and political reasons. “This is the path to victory in the primary and general election,” Green and co-founder Stephanie Taylor wrote in an op-ed in The Hill.

Other liberal groups, which have sometimes been critical of Clinton, are also interested in a chance to bend Clinton's ear on these issues., which has 8 million members and traces it roots to defending Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial, said that while noting is planned at the moment, they anticipate some kind of interaction with Clinton. “We would be open and expecting a meeting and interactions with anybody looking for the Democratic nomination,” said a source at the group.

MoveOn and others say it will be especially important for Clinton to engage with their members, who number in the millions and include some of the most active Democratic grassroots volunteers and supporters. “We’re looking forward to meeting with her team,” said Neil Sroka of Democracy for America, which grew out of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. It’s important that Clinton “find ways to connect with the grassroots progressives our organizations represent,” he added, calling them the “foot soldiers” of the party.

Clinton plans an unofficial “listening tour” after the election, according to The New York Times, but Green says his group’s outreach pre-dated the elections by several months.

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Activists involved with several other labor and progressive groups said they have not yet been contacted by Clinton’s team. One suspected the tour will be confined to “known likely friends,” rather than people skeptical of Clinton. Still, they acknowledged it’s early yet.  

Dean’s DFA has gotten a jump on 2016 by trying to take the temperatures of its more than 1 million members. Last week, it launched an internal poll that, “demonstrates our commitment to making sure the fight for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation,” Sroka said. The poll is still ongoing, but this week, the group sent a series of emails to supporters making “the progressive case” for several different candidates, including Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is a brawler, willing to take Republicans head on and expose their lies. Can you imagine watching Hillary demolish Ted Cruz or Rand Paul in a debate? It would be epic,” the Clinton email notes. It also praises her experience and political strength, concluding: With “the mistakes of her 2008 presidential campaign in her rearview mirror, Hillary Clinton appears to be ready to win the White House.”

The other emails tout the progressive bona fides for Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. There’s also an email for, curiously, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

On a DFA conference call in February, Reich said, “I think that there will be a lot of people -- Elizabeth Warren, others, maybe even me -- who will toss our hats in the ring.”

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Progressives are encouraged by Clinton’s recent rhetoric on the stump for Democratic midterm candidates, especially the speech she gave while appearing with Warren in Massachusetts on behalf of failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley. “It’s clear that she’s listening,” Sroka said.