March 19th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton challenges Obama on Michigan vote

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Clinton used her first appearance in Michigan this year to rake aim at Obama’s lack of support for a re-vote there."] DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) - Hillary Clinton traveled to Michigan Wednesday and challenged Barack Obama to approve a new proposal for a primary re-vote, painting the issue as a matter of civil rights and charging that Republicans may take the state in November if voters there do not get a say in picking the Democratic nominee.

"I am here for one simple reason," Clinton said to a small crowd of supporters gathered at an AFSCME hall. "To make sure Michigan's votes are counted, and your voices are heard in this election."

Clinton, trailing Obama in pledged delegates, scheduled a last-minute trip here as part of a larger effort by her campaign to schedule re-votes in Michigan and Florida, both of which were stripped of their delegates when they violated Democratic Party rules by moving forward their primary dates.

On Monday, the Florida Democratic Party ruled out a new primary vote.

In a series of memos and conference calls in recent days, the Clinton campaign has portrayed Obama as obstructionist because he has failed to advocate for a re-vote in Michigan. A draft proposal by the Michigan state legislature, which has received a tentative go-ahead from the Democratic National Committee, would hold a re-vote on June 3 using privately-raised funds.

The Obama campaign released a memo Wednesday raising "serious" legal and procedural questions about the Michigan proposal. Clinton said the matter of Michigan's delegates boils down to each candidate's commitment to voting rights and questioned if Obama is committed to "empowering the American people."
"This is a crucial test," she said. "Does he mean what he says or not?
Citing the number of voters in the Florida and Michigan primaries, she said that "nearly two and a half million Americans are in danger of being shut out of our Democratic process." "I think that's wrong, and frankly it is un-American," Clinton said to applause, as supporters behind her waved signs reading "Michigan votes count" and "Count my vote!"She also argued that "ignoring Michigan and Florida would be a grave mistake" because it could alienate Democrats in those states.

"If the Democrats send a message that we don't care about your votes, I'm sure John McCain and the Republicans would be happy to have them," she said. "In fact, the Republicans will argue that Michigan and Florida voters shouldn't trust the Democrats to look out for them when we won't even listen to you."

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Texas Terry

    Funny.... if Barack could have his way nobody else would vote because he is in the lead now. So why don't we all lie down and let him win....

    Why because I will never vote for him! Too many skeletons coming out of the closet.

    March 19, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Slap Stick, Florida

    She is so full of herself to challenge anyone on anything. Now that she has so-called release some of the documents she wants to challenge. Lady please. Release those tax records because any American with a brain realizes that those documents of her schedule has been doctored up!!

    March 19, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. pennythoughts

    Again I ask: What happened to the pledge Obama made in September to do everything he could to have the votes in FL and MI count? I would like Obama to quit hiding behind the legal mumbo-jumbo and propose a plan. That might demonstrate some leadership on his part.

    March 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Ryan

    She had no issue agreeing to the terms of the DNC.

    She had no issue when she was AHEAD.

    She had no issue when she didn't need Michigan's delegates to even appear in contention.

    NOW she has an issue...and is trying to blame it on Obama?

    Blame the state officials that tried to make their votes more important than they were. The rules were put in place for a reason. Stop with the dirty tactics. Hillary will do ANYTHING to win.

    March 19, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. steve

    Its an uncomfortable feeling for me that Obama do not want the Michigan and Florida votes counted. Someone has to treasure democracy to want to lead and defend it.....and so why is he against allowing over 2 millions voters the opportunity to have their voices heard. This is enough for me to question his integrity and character. I was on the fence but I've found myself now baking cookies for the HIllary camp.

    March 19, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. dan

    Wow, what an inspiring and uplifting speech, building on the themes Sen. Obama outlined yesterday.


    Clearly, Sen Clinton only wants to perpetuate divisiveness, insider politics, and partisanship.
    She doesn't get it, and apparently neither do her blind supporters.

    I am in despair over an America that cannor or will not hear a call for unity, progress, and working for a brighter future.

    March 19, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Denise

    You ask if Barack Obama means what he says or not, but obviously you don't mean what you say. Otherwise, you would have adhered to the rules set by the DNC with which YOU agreed and not pressured a re-vote that could potentially be wrought with legal problems, continue to disenfranchise Michigan voters, and further split the party.

    March 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. g4hillary

    obama doesn't want to give up another state or two.. don't forget florida. or three, don't forget pa. should i keep going? its a sad day when voters don't get to speek. i think if obama had a lead in those states we would be going the other way so it didn't seem racest

    March 19, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Nuwan Samaranayake

    If Obama can fight impressively as he can speak then let see whether he has a backborn strong enough to say "yes we can" for Michigan voters. We need a president who has a fighting spirit and can stand up to anything fairly. This is a good test for Obama. Lets see what he does.

    March 19, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Never McCain

    As Democrats we must face the reality that Obama will be the nominee. With that said, we must unite and work toward the common goal of winning the Presidency.

    Now there are those of you who are Hillary supporters who have expressed the desire to vote for McCain when Obama is the nominee. Then there are those who simply won't vote. People, please, I felt the same way. But this is bigger that us. Please set our spin driven biases for Obama and look at the Man. Just take a deep breath and take a look. That's all. If afterward and you still hate him, then by all means carry on and do what you must.

    March 19, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Jose

    Are Clinton supporters for real?! This lady agreed to take away the voices of Florida and Michigan voters! Now her supporters want to clap when she says their voices should be heard? This is too funny!!

    March 19, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. HH

    Hillary GIVE IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!! You know you CANNOT win with or without Michigan and Florida. If you ran your campaign one of honesty you would NOT BE in a hole and trying to claw and dig out. You CANNOT catch Obama. Dick Morris said its OVER and it is. Looking at polls its time for the clown Howard Dean to do his job and end the bickering. Either split the delagates 50/50 or award delagates in Florida to Clinton 50-40 and Michigan 50-50 and GET OVER IT. Do democrats really want JOHN MCCAIN in the whitehouse????????? If you do we will all be in the same spot argueing 4 years from now, with a war still going and possible depression. Its time to wake up SUPERDELAGATES and do something for once. Because you are making all democrats look like CLOWNS!

    March 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. disgruntled in CA

    Of course Obama does not want to count Michigan and Florida because he will not benefit from either one. Discounting either one, especially Florida since it is an important swing state, could be detrimental to the Democratic party. If Obama wins the nomination and Florida is not counted, I am sure we will see if go to McCain in the Fall.

    March 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. CW in DC

    The gall of this woman is unbelievable!!!!

    Where was all this back when she signed off that MI and FL would not be seated? She doesn't even acknowledge that she did it and nor does she even apologize for it.

    For her it is a clever tactic because it's a win-win for her. She looks like the politician who "cares" (drippin' with sarcasm) for everyone's vote and puts Obama on the spot even if he wants to follow rules (again, the same ones she signed off on). She can easily paint him as not standing up for his words when his words were also "America needs to take responsibility for their actions."

    It was by DNC rules (which she also didn't follow) that all candidates were to remove their names from the Michigan ballot. Guess who didn't follow that rule. We should have smelled a rat way back then!

    She disgusts me!

    March 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Tracy

    Since Hillary is incapable of speaking what she is really thinking- let me fill in the blanks for those who refuse to see her (or any of the other candidates for that matter) for who she really is: "I am here for one simple reason- to bully my way into the White House. I will say and do anything to win. If I wasn't alreay losing, I wouldn't even care about this state. But, since I didn't wrap this up on Super Tuesday, I now need your votes."

    This woman could care less about the rules SHE AGREED to last year. The only reason why she cares is she understands this is the only way she can stop Barack's momentum. The problem with this country is that we all agree to rules and when it doesn't pan out for us, we whine until the rules are changed in a way that benefits us. The votes shouldn't count, get over it and move on. Better yet, drop out of the race and let Obama have the nomination the majority want him to have so we can begin to fight against McCain who is globe trotting the planet as though he is the next president of the US.

    March 19, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. lugina OBAMA go home..go away...America need Leader...not LOSER..and OBAMA you are... LOSER...PERIOD

    March 19, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. MP

    Clever Hillary!...No-one can say she isn't a master of her game... Hopefully the people of Michigan will see through this...Let's not forget that it's Michigan's elected officials that have caused this mess ...even though Hillary will try to blame Obama – and I'm sure there are some stupid enough to believe her.

    March 19, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. ELAINE

    OBAMA is trying to compare Wright to his grandmother with regards to things they say about race, unfortunately the Rev. has a lot more audience than his grandmother & can influence a lot more people because of his way of delivering them.

    March 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Enuffs Enuff

    Hillary you've grown VERY tiresome. I've seen enough of the Clintons for a lifetime. When you can purposely and intentionally go out of your way to hurt and damage the people in your own party, I guess theres nothing you wont do to get your way. I pray for you.

    March 19, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Nancy

    In answer to your question, Senator Clinton, I think Obama proved in his "major speech" yesterday that not only does he not mean what he says, but al lot of what he does say is untrue. After saying he was never in church for Wright's horrific anti-American statements, he said in his speech that he was, in fact, there.

    It is patently obvious that he will do anything to prevent the voters in Michigan and Florida from having their votes counted. And people like me are not going to contribute again to the DNC unless ALL of the voters are heard. I will continue to contribute to you, however, because youdo mean what you say. Drop out now, Obama!

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Jbecks

    Yes Terry, and if Clinton had her way she would be the only one on the ballot in the remaining 10 states. Since that is "clearly fair" according to camp Clinton. So I guess we should just let everyone break the rules and then ultimately let them have twice the influence because of it. Fair is fair, right Hillary and Terry?

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Bill

    These are the subtle jabs about Clinton that undermine the Democratic party, similar to the Commander in Chief Test she made up. "It is un-American not to allow MI and FL to vote" - translation "Barack Obama is un-American. Unpatriotic." Never mind that the Clinton campaign agreed that MI and FL wouldn't count and her campaign had a large majority of the input (Ickes).

    What hurts the party most is this "The Democrats are sending a message that we don't care about your votes. " She goes on to say John McCain would be happy to have them. There is nothing wrong with wanting to win, but the tactics say something about one's integrity. She could win the nomination and lose the election because she constantly gives McCain help.

    By the way the commander in chief statement will be interesting if she gets the nomination – "I BELIEVE I have crossed the commander in chief threshold. John McCain has crossed the commander in chief threshold..." This is something that would come back to bite her if she were to get the nomination.

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. mary cleveland, ohio

    Why should we all lie down and let Hillary think she wins?!
    Hillary cannot win unless she wins with superdelegate votes.
    Just because Hillary wins BIG states doesn't mean she wins all their delegates. In Ohio I believe Obama ended up with one or two less delegates than Hillary or maybe more than Hillary, even though she won the state. Of course Hillary wants to get Michigan and Florida votes, however, even they can't put her in front. Even if they could, the fact is Fla. and Mi. broke the rules of the DNC and their votes cannot be counted as punishment. If the people of the states were so against the DNC rules, they "should have" complained way before the primaries.

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Sarah C, Upstate NY

    Since when is there a "right" to vote in a primary?

    Primaries and caucuses are a way for a -private organization- to figure out who it wants on its ballot slot. They have nothing to do with our right to vote, and they aren't part of the official framework for federal elections written up in the Constitution. Some states let anybody vote in the primary, some states let only registered party members vote. If the Republicans wanted to refuse to seat delegates from states with Democratic governors at their convention, they could do it.

    It really disappoints me that Clinton is trying to make this seem as if it's about "rights" when there isn't any right to vote involved here at all. This is no different than arguing that a person's "right" to vote for their local Boy Scout Troop Leader is being "taken away" when they aren't even in the Boy Scouts. Ridiculous!

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. vjh

    Dearest Hillary, What kind of President would you be if you discount the fact that both Michigan and Florida broke the rules that were put in place before the game started ? You're menatlity is that of a 4 year old: I don't like that I'm losing, so lets change the rules of the game so I can win. Please stop being so self deserving and grow up !

    March 19, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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