Several progressives who’ve spoken with Joe Biden’s campaign said they see room to mold the former vice president’s policies on gun control, climate change and immigration. | Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Joe Biden’s campaign is mounting an aggressive behind-the-scenes effort to address the biggest weakness of his candidacy: A lack of enthusiasm among the liberal base, particularly young voters.

Since his landslide victories earlier this month, Biden’s advisers have engaged in talks with a range of top progressive groups, including some that endorsed his chief rival, Bernie Sanders, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversations. The outreach to left-wing organizations and individuals — representing causes from climate change and immigrant rights to gun control and mobilizing underserved black and brown communities — is focused on young activists. Broadly speaking, they viewed Biden as one of the least-inspiring candidates in the sprawling Democratic primary field.

It’s a delicate dance for both sides. For one, Sanders is still in the race. Plus, the progressives recognize that their time and leverage to influence Biden is limited since he’s all but wrapped up the nomination. Still, Biden needs to fix his enthusiasm deficit, which was partly masked by his wins this month, and it’s far from certain that antipathy toward President Donald Trump alone will do the job.

The activists are seeking commitments from the Biden campaign on their issues, knowing that any headway is likely to be on the margins; Biden, for instance, will never come close to Sanders on policies like “Medicare for All.” It’s a distinct letdown for them after coming tantalizingly close to getting Sanders as the nominee. To win the nomination now, Sanders would need to win more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates.

“The dirty little secret is everyone’s talking to Biden’s campaign,” said Sean McElwee, co-founder of the liberal think tank Data for Progress. “There will be fights, but at the end of the day, progressives still hold votes in the Senate and increasingly Democratic voters stand behind our views. I expect we’ll see Biden embracing key planks of the ambitious agenda progressives have outlined on issues like climate and pharmaceutical policy.”

Biden’s team is treating the project like a minicampaign. It has formed an internal working group dedicated to outreach to progressives, which met this week, and is crafting a timeline of engagement over the next few weeks. Senior Biden advisers Symone Sanders and Cristóbal Alex, along with policy director Stef Feldman, are leading the effort.

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