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. TheLeftNut

    Obama OR Hillary NOT McCain

    March 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. TheLeftNut

    "McCain will continue to stain our good name!"


    March 19, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |

    And they accuse Senator Clinton of doing "whatever it takes" to win?


    They had their supporters, combined with Edwards' supporters, vote Uncommitted, and Clinton STILL beat them!


    March 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Trev

    So, Obama is basically saying "I would love a revote, but the law won't let us do it." Does he really expect us to buy that spin. I think he will succeed in avoiding a revote, but that is not a great strategy in the general election (if he makes it that far). He is risking damage to the Democratic Party by punishing the voters (who did not do anything wrong) instead of the party elites (who did).

    March 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. jp/michigan

    People in Michigan were told to vote, UNCOMMITTED if they wanted to vote for Obama. Give him that 40%. Do not disfranchise the Michigan Voter. Because both Obama and DNC will be the looser. Obama states, " Hillary will do anything to win." Well, what does not letting Michigan's vote count, say about Obama. I don't want a man in the White House who took away my constitution right to vote and for it to be counted.

    March 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Ivan

    It sure sounds like the Obama campaign doesn't want the people to vote. They're afraid that if the people vote he will lose again and reconfirms the prior result only this time they couldn't deny Hillary the votes or the delegates from the outcome. Unfortunately, the DNC will probably allow them to block this revote and if Obama is nominated the democrats will lose Michigan and go down to defeat in November. The only correct choice is to either let the prior vote stand giving Obama the 40% uncommitted votes and subsequent delegates and Hillary the winner's share or let the revote proceed so that the Democrats can stand a chance in November.

    Obviously, Barack Obama is not in favor of letting the voters votes count.

    March 19, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Adam in Indy

    Could it be that the Obama team is afraid of the outcome???

    March 19, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Amelia

    As a resident of Michigan, I can say for a fact that what the Obama campaign says about people who voted in the Republican primary is TRUE! We were told over and over again how the Democratic election was not going to count. Meanwhile, the Republican race was quite close between Romney and McCain. So my husband, an Obama supporter who also likes McCain, decided to cross over and vote for McCain. But had the Dem election counted, he definitely would have voted for Obama! I, on the other hand, voted 'Uncommitted' on the Dem side. However I'm sure there were a lot more people like my husband. It was a tough call to make at the time.

    March 19, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Emiel

    "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.

    CNN, this is incorrect. The first sentence should read "The Clinton campaign recently started believing..."

    March 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Slap Stick, Florida

    To put voters in the position of being disenfranchised twice is an ignorant move and Hillary needs to use that so-called experience that she says she has and think about how mad voters will really be is they vote don't count after all of this. The voters will denounce and reject the democrats in November if that happens.

    March 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. California Voter

    Watch out. Obama is bringing in the lawyers the way he did in previous elections where he ultimately came out the winner. My response would be fine. Let the results from both Florida and Michigan stand as voted upon by the people. No one forced Obama to pull from the Michigan election. The vote in both states was "legal". The DNC must let both states votes count and be included in the final count. The DNC should not cut off their nose to spite all the voters!

    March 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Bill

    Obama really doesn't want any votes to count from Michigan or Florida, because he knows he would lose in a revote just like he lost in the original primaries. He was the only one to advertise in Florida before their primary and yet he lost handily. He says he is for the people to be heard, just as long as it's the people who vote for him.

    March 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Ron

    The FAIR thing is NOT to have a revote in Michigan. The rules were laid out from the very beginning, the Michigan Democratic Leaders for Michigan decided to buck the system, The DNC once again warned them, YOU DO THIS, YOU LOSE YOUR DELEGATES. They thought it was a bluff.....WRONG!!!! So no revote BUT..they need to split the delegates 50-50 and allow them to come to the convention. MICHIGAN VOTERS you have a problem with this, BLAME YOUR STATE LEGISLATURE!! PUT THE BLAME WERE IT BELONGS!!! The DNC tried to prevent it from happening they even gave the state a couple of weeks to rethink their decision. They didn't, they loss..FOR EVERY ACTION, THERE IS AN OPPOSITE REACTION.

    March 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Ron

    By the way I live in Michigan.

    March 19, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Karen

    Obama had his name removed from the Michigan ballot. (It was on the ballot in Florida). With his new protests I'm starting to think he doesn't want the people of Michigan or Florida to have their votes counted. Perhaps because he would lose? Although his name wasn't on the ballot, they could have written him in...

    Question: Why does a Democratic Presidential Primary Candidate NOT want the voters of two states to have their voice heard????

    Being a Florida voter who DID go out and cast my vote I'm angry about this whole mess and the misconceptions many people around the country have about why the Florida primary was scheduled the way it was.

    March 19, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. dylan

    Can Hillary please answer, why did you agree to the rules last year before the game began but now that we are in the middle of the game you decide that those rules are no good anymore?

    Now just like the Iraq vote, Hillary wishes she never agreed to the rules in the first place.

    We ALL know that the only reason that Hillary wants a do over is because she knows she can’t win without it. If the shoe was on the other foot she would be screaming that it’s fair not to have those 2 states counted since both candidates accepted those conditions last year.


    America wants to know, Hillary why didn't you complain last year? Answer this question if you think its so important to include them?

    March 19, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. g4hillary

    of course obama doesn't want a re-vote....he knows he will not win. for a man who says he wants to unite, why would he want to stop a vote? does he not htink this will hurt him if he is our choice in this election?and for his speech yesterday, not enough.. why did he wait so long? why say he wasn't there when he was? he wants to run as an open candidate, and then lie to us. what does that say about the man?????

    March 19, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Mr. C.

    Why still struggling on this issue. The RULES are the RULES. Michigan broke the rules and they have to face the consequences. The OBAMA camp nor the Clinton Camp has nothing to do with this. They need to take it out on their governors. Why try to change the rules in the middle of the game? If you want to change the rules, do it after the game is Over. now thats whats Fair.

    March 19, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  19. avoter

    It's interesting to note that while she was the First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary held a position on the Board of Wal Mart, yet now she seeks the votes of workers and union members.

    March 19, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  20. Rex Alan

    Give it up HRC. You're dust.

    March 19, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. Brad, Obamaha NE

    if the monster hadn't won against NO ONE in michigan she wouldn't be asking for the original vote to be honored. but now that her campaign is bleeding the all of a sudden matter...

    will this woman stop at nothing?

    March 19, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Obama Nation

    There he goes...dividing the country again...let all Americans vote and let their vote count. This is transparency in government. It is so easy to see what Obama is doing. he is trying to manipulate and control sitiuations for his own personal interest and survival. HE IS A POLITICIAN NOT A SAVIOR.

    March 19, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Jenn

    Obama needs to stop trying to stop a re-vote and work with both states on a solution. Before every body starts on Hillary for breaking the rules. Did any of you read what both Obama and Hillary signed. She in fact is following the rules he in not. The aggrement stated a revote could take place and then the delagates could be seated if it happened by June 10th. The longer Obama drags his feet the more he looks like a fool. Michigan is only looking for him to

    March 19, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. rusty

    The issue is pure and simple. You should never reward someboby for breaking the rules, in order to win. If you do, that behavior will be repeated over and over again, and become the norm. If the delegates must be seated, split them down the middle, or according to the popular vote thus far in all the states. Otherwise, no way.

    March 19, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. vicki $$$$$$$$

    Hillary Clinton should have opposed this decision back when it could have been corrected . Why did she agree to this process if she believes
    voting is a bedrock of our country. WHY DID HILLARY AGREE TO THIS DECISION. IT IS TOO LATE !!!!!

    March 19, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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