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Progressive group meets with Clinton aides, earns Franken endorsement

Top Clinton aides recently with a liberal group hoping to push to her to the left, two sources familiar with the meeting tell msnbc.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs after speaking at the Center for American Progress on March 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs after speaking at the Center for American Progress on March 23, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Four aides to Hillary Clinton recently heard from a liberal group behind an effort to push the likely presidential candidate to the left, two sources familiar with the meeting told msnbc. News of meeting comes as the effort by the group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, earned the backing of Sen. Al Franken, a Clinton ally.

Clinton has struck populist economic tones at times over the past year as she seeks to win over a restive left-flank and unite the Democratic Party behind her upcoming presidential bid. The former secretary of state is eager to avoid a repeat of 2008, when her first presidential bid was derailed in part by liberals rallying to then-Sen. Barack Obama.

RELATED: Harry Reid joins effort to push Clinton left

That includes soliciting ideas from the PCCC, whose co-founder, Adam Green, met recently with Clinton aides Marlon Marshall, Dan Schwerin, Nick Merrill and Brynne Craig in New York City, where Clinton is expected to headquarter her campaign, according to a source familiar with the meeting. 

The PCCC is hoping Clinton and other potential Democratic presidential candidates will adopt some of the group's policy priorities, which include expanding Social Security benefits to seniors and making college debt-free. A PCCC source said only that the meeting was "constructive.”

The PCCC has promoted primary challenges to mainstream Democrats in the past, but it declined to join the movement to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 primary. Instead, the group launched a campaign dubbed "Ready for Boldness” to encourage Clinton and other Democrats to adopt “big, bold, economic­ populist ideas.” More than 5,000 local Democratic activists and leaders have signed on, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley.

The approach is not meant to be antagonistic of Clinton, as Franken said in his endorsement of "Ready for Boldness” Thursday.

"Voters want Democrats in 2016 to speak to the economic issues that affect their everyday lives. I'm a proud supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, and I know that she'll be proposing the kinds of big ideas we need to help middle class families and those aspiring to be in the middle class,” Franken said in a statement.

“It's up to all of us to do our part to get a strong economic populist message out there, and I'm thrilled to see that thousands of people are already doing their part,” the Minnesotan continued.

Both Clintons campaigned for Franken in 2008 and in 2014, and the senator endorsed Clinton’s presidential campaign long before she made anything official. 

Warren joined the campaign this Wednesday as well, telling the Associated Press, "Anyone who runs for president should talk about big economic ideas that will help rebuild the middle class in this country and improve the lives of working-class families” 

Clinton's meeting with the PCCC is the latest in an ongoing conversation with the group, which has been critical of Clinton in the past, as first reported by msnbc last year.