Washington (CNN)Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is joining a progressive-backed effort aimed indirectly at encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build her expected presidential campaign on "big, bold economic populist ideas."
Harry Reid, progressives urge 2016 Dem to run on 'bold economic populist' ideas
That's the plea of a petition, launched by the liberal-leaning Progressive Change Campaign Committee and signed by 5,000 current and former elected officials and other political leaders, addressed to the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
"We urge all candidates for president to campaign on big, bold ideas -- such as establishing a national goal of debt-free college at all public colleges and universities, expanding Social Security benefits instead of cutting them, creating millions of clean-energy jobs, reducing big-money influence in politics, breaking up the 'too big to fail' Wall Street banks that crashed our economy, and ensuring that working families share in the economic growth they help create," the petition reads.
It argues that such ideas have broad support across the political spectrum and are "key to victory" in 2016. In addition to Reid, nearly 200 state legislators and 25 members of Congress have signed the petition. That includes former Iowa Rep. Tom Harkin and a few House members considering or running for Senate, including Florida Rep. Alan Grayson and Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards.
While the petition is addressed broadly to any 2016 contenders, its implicit target is Clinton, who is expected to launch her presidential bid this month. She's long faced skepticism from progressives who view her as too cozy with Wall Street and want to hear more from her on combating income inequality.
A number of little-known Democrats are floating presidential bids, including former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. Clinton remains the prohibitive frontrunner in the early Democratic primary, however — every survey of the field shows her leading her potential primary opponents by huge double-digit margins.
Though Clinton already has the backing of a number of Democratic senators in her probable bid, Reid's signature on the petition signals he may still be withholding judgment in the race. Reid has previously said that he "loves" the Clintons, Reid was instrumental in recruiting then-Sen. Barack Obama to challenge her in 2008.
And his move to back the PCCC's petition signals that he could again become a thorn in the Democrats' side a second time around.