March 19th, 2008
01:28 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama camp says legal issues could entangle Michigan re-vote


The Obama campaign says a Michigan re-vote could lead to several legal issues. (Getty Images)

(CNN) - Hours before Hillary Clinton is set to take the stage in Detroit, Michigan to personally make the case for a re-vote in the state, the Obama campaign circulated a memo from its top lawyer arguing a re-vote could encounter legal hurdles.

Bob Bauer, a longtime Washington lawyer and the Obama campaign's general counsel, said in the memo a rushed re-vote in Michigan like the one currently proposed by the governor is full of several flaws that could serve to disenfranchise voters there a second time.

"[The] questions could put at risk the running of the election, undermine acceptance of the results if the election is held, and in both cases effectively deny Michigan voters, a second consecutive time, meaningful participation in the nominating process," Bauer wrote. (Read full Obama memo [PDF])

Specifically, Bauer took issue with the re-vote proposal's stipulation that Michigan residents who voted in the the Republican primary in January will not be able to vote in any new Democratic contest - the campaign argues several Democrats voted in the Republican primary because the Democratic one was meaningless. He also says legal issues could arise over the financing of the election with so called "soft money," absentee voter rules, and the strain of preparing for a new election in such a short time frame.

Clinton's campaign released a memo shortly after Obama's that took aim at their rival for "refusing to give the people of Michigan the chance to exercise their fundamental right to vote." (Read full Clinton memo [PDF])

"The Clinton campaign believes the right to vote is a bedrock principle of our country and that empowering the people of Michigan and Florida to make their voices heard must be a priority for any candidate running for the Democratic nomination," the Clinton memo states. "As such, we must either honor the original vote or hold a state-run primary that doesn’t leave the taxpayers footing the bill."

The memo also takes issue with the Obama campaign's contention that many of its potential supporters may have voted in the Republican primary in January.

The Obama campaign’s allies in Michigan organized an effort to get people in Michigan to vote for “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary, helping to bring the uncommitted share of vote to 40 percent," the memo states. "So the Obama camp can’t reasonably argue supporters participated in the GOP primary and didn’t vote in the Democratic contest."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. kd

    Well he don't want the chance to loose the white vote after his Rev/Uncle/Family member for 20years makes comments like "Not God Bless America, But God Dam America". I not shock at all he don't want a re-vote. Obama, the people of America are starting to see your ways. Oh yeah and he denounces all our military people.
    His Rev/Uncle/Family member didn't mean to say that but thanks for fighting for this country!

    March 19, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Mary

    If some of these comments are any indication of the overall intelligence factor in this country, its no wonder we are in a mortgage crisis – didn't know what those big words meant, huh? For the love, people – Senator Obama is simply trying to make sure that if its going to be done AGAIN, that it be done RIGHT. And that is a crime?? Seems to me that its Billary who wants to rush things and get a decision made in haste. The voters of Michigan and Florida were disenfranchised by their own state democratic party, not by Clinton and not by Obama. Let them tell their respective democratic leadership about that at the next state election.

    March 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Alice in Fort Myers

    That's fine – I live in Florida and my vote for Hillary was stolen. I'll get even when I vote for McCain in November if that liar (I never heard a word – oh, scratch that, I, umm, was there when some things were said) Obama who talks from both sides of his mouth gets the Democratic nod.

    There is no WAY I would ever vote for that racist.

    I would like to know how much money Senator Obama donated to his nutball hate-mongering "uncle" Reverend Wright.

    March 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Bob from Texas

    As has been stated by many already, this is not Obama's fault. He is not disenfranchising anyone. Nor does he, or Hillary, have the authority to enact a "do-over" in Florida or Michigan. This was decided over a year ago by the DNC and agreed to by the candidates. Hillary agreed to this. So no matter how much her campaign or supporters whine or complain, they're sleeping in the bed they made. Blaming Obama at this juncture, or decrying how universally unfair it is to deny a revote is a pathetically weak and hyprocritical move by Hillary's campaign.

    March 19, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Jim Kansas

    Boo Hoo- either re-vote or count the original vote. And stop whinning. Also I have attended many a church service in numerous churches, some have put me to sleep and others have not. Basically I never never found a minister that changed his stance from week to week, so Obama was not present att he two sermons that hit the air ways, big deal.

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Roger

    As a republican I have to say that Hillary Clinton is sounding like a poor victim trying to talk her way out of a speeding ticket. Rules are rules. If you don't abide by them now, obviously you won't abide by them if you are the president.

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Whatever it take hillary

    If she can not get the nomminationtion, She will be running as independent to ruin OBAMA'S chance. I am hard core democrate but I will never vote for her.

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. jo

    if you count caucus votes where fraction of voters show, but not count 2.5 million people vote that is insane.People say they would have voted. Well guess what people who supported HIllary couldn't go to caucuses because they had to work. If that is fair deal, then don't complain after 2.5 million people voted.

    Dean favors Obama and is making very hard to come to resolution. Some say rule is rule. When was there in democracy not counting votes been a rule? Remember 2000? Other way to do it right is Hillary get about 600 superdelegates, Obama and his supporters cannot complain. Obama wants to win with any cost. He lies as he speaks and through out the campaign he has acted as a weazle. Have a back bone if you really want to be a valid candidate.

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Denise

    Why is either candidate to blame for this fiasco? Neither of them had anything to do with this mess, nor do either of them deserve any praise for any attempts to get it fixed. Obama's lawyers bring up a valid point. There are legal considerations concerning a re-vote in Michigan that, if ignored, could disenfranchise Michigan voters a SECOND time? Why would anyone want to ignore that? Why is that not considered a fair warning? Nobody is trying to stop people from exercising their right to vote, but if angry MI and FL voters want heads to roll, they should call for those of their governors, state DNC chairs, and everyone else who TRULY was responsible for this situation. Don't give grief or credit to either candidate because they have no power to take away or reinstate your vote.

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Will from Gaithersburg, MD

    Hillary Clinton has made this proverbial bed in Michigan and should now lay in it. This is another way for the Clinton shenanigans to show they are above the law (by challenging DNC rules), and their attempt to win at all costs, even if it means taking down the Democratic party with them.

    In Keith Olbermann’s voice…The Clinton shenanigans are today’s worst...persons…in the world!!!

    OBAMA 08!

    March 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Jesse

    Even 5th graders are taught how to play by the rules, cheating is wrong and getting your way doesn't work all the time. Which poses the question, Is HRC smarter than a Fifth Grader?

    March 19, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. eddieraff

    obama wants transparency in government and to make sure everyone has the right to vote, but when it's in his advantage, he would cut voters off in a heartbeat to win.

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Ohio Steve

    Please! Can we please stop this on going fued about Mich & Fla. All candidates agreed ( EVEN HILLARY) Mich & Fla would not count. Now that Hilliary has not been handed the nomination on a silver platter she now wants these states to count. If this is what she believes where was her OUTRAGE before the primary started. Hillary thought she would have the nomination locked up by super Tuesday, If she had you would not hear a word about Mich & Fla escape her lips.

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. SB

    Michigan and Florida broke the rules....why should they get a recount?

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. mainer

    Michagen and Florida broke the rules set forth by the DNC. They inturn screwed their own voters. Rules are rules, end of story. Lets all move on!

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Ed

    Another disgusting political trick. Clinton is shredding the party to get the nomination- at any cost. If not now, in four years. If Florida and Michigan are forced to actually follow the rules, they may well go to McCain- in part because every day the Clinton camp tells them they are being disenfranchised. If the delegates are simply awarded to Clinton, especially where other candidates are not on the ballot, it may still not get her the nomination, but it will sour the whole country on the party. I am beginning to believe that the Clinton's really do have a master plan- either take the nomination by any means necessary, or set up Obama to lose in the fall, which presumably would give Hillary another shot in 4 years.

    Can no one remember how like this is to the first Clinton administration?

    I would have to decline to vote for her in 2008 or 2012, and it sickens me that voters and superdelegates fall for the rot that comes out of her obnoxious mouth!

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. John

    Obama has already won, HRC can go away now, It is inevitable that Barack was going to win because this is our time to take our country back, and yes we are doing just that. Tough luck Hillary you should have run last time, cause your time has come and gone. Later.

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. An Agnostic Democrat

    Since when has any Clinton played by rules they agreed, signed and pledged to? This smells of typical Clintonian hypocrisy and foul play.

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Wisconsin


    BTW for you Billary supporters: You realize she agreed to not count MI or FL right?

    March 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Jake, California

    The hardest think about arguing with Hillary's 'cheerleaders' on this blog is that they don't understand half the things they are arguing about....It's sort of like arguing with someone who's on both sides of the issue like Hillary does!...

    March 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Whatever it take hillary

    Show me the tax first Hillary be transparant.

    March 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    All Obama camp wants is for democrates who voted for GOP because they were told tha the democratic primary in MI wouldn't count. Since DNC is willing to go back on initially agreed rules I think these ones too should be allowed to vote by having an open re-vote so that independents and Dems that voted for GOP can also vote in the MI re-vote. That all.

    March 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Brian

    Just another Clinton ploy to get to where she wants to be when facts show she did not earn it. Obama proved yesterday that he is not going to play politics as usual, he is going to confront the issues with honesty so my suggestion to the Clinton machine is to be certain they want this fight in public before enciting it. She will have to run for office again when this is over and her actions have a broad scope in voters minds.
    If Obama had left his name on the ballot and she had removed hers, and she was leading in delegates, popular vote and states won you can bet the bank SHE would not be endorsing a re vote. The thought is laughable to any one who has been watching this race from the beginning.

    March 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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