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. paustinx

    Where was HRC's concern for voter rights when she agreed as with all Democratic candidats initially for not taking into account due to Michigan's decision to move their primary dates. Why this sudden change of heart and enlightenment on rights ?

    March 19, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Kevin

    For those of you who want to tow the Clinton Campaigns rhetoric that somehow the mess in Michigan and Florida is Obama's fault, please stop this intellectual dishonesty.

    There are serious problems with a re-vote in both states.

    Read Amelia's situation above.

    The truth is that nothing is fair. It's not fair that the DNC had to enforce an antiquated rules system. It's not fair that the leaders in both states denied voters by challenging these rules. It's not fair that both politicians are playing politics with this. It's not fair. In light of all this unfairness, go back to the original rules and live by them.

    March 19, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. MannyG

    Talk about doing what ever you can to win. Obama mind your own business and let the people of MI decide wether or not to have a re-vote. Your true colors are starting to show. Obama talks a good talk but will not be able to deliver. I've search the net to for any of Obama's accomplishments, if any and I have not been able to find not even one. What did he do as governor and senator?

    Go Hillary!

    March 19, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Christine

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

    Because last year she thought her nomination was inevitable. She didn't think she NEEDED Fl and Mi so she DIDN'T CARE. She plain DID NOT CARE. Do I have to repeat it. SHE DIDN'T CARE. Now she needs them and all of a sudden, what do you know, she cares. In the words of slick Willy, give me a break!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Dave

    I don't care for either candidate but the rules are the rules. why do we have them and why did all the candidates agree to them? they must be enforced. the people can take this up with their state legislature (it's their fault, not the DNC's). and again, all candidates agreed. but now we have Hillary thinking she has a chance. what a laugh. wait till they start to disect those white house schedules. too bad the phone logs aren't released now. they may be even more telling.

    March 19, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Fred

    Its hard to believe there are so many idiots who think the first vote should count. This was the state dem party's fault, not either candidates'. They all agreed it wouldn't count!! Now HRC supporters, because they won against "uncommitted", feel they are justified in demanding the delegates and have the nerve to blame Obama for following the rules. Hypocrisy at its finest. I bet if Michigan asked for a caucus or open primary redo HRC would say NO, and not care at all about disenfranchisement.

    March 19, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Chris

    This is funny. Barack Obama wants Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary???

    Does Barack Obama know that Republicans are strong with regard to their love of country and that, after watching Barack Obama defending his church minister who appears to have been preaching hate and what many view as ANTI-AMERICAN sentiments from the pulpit, he is unlikely to get any Republican votes. Rather, I think people, including Republicans, will vote for Hillary Clinton to keep him from having ANY chance of getting into the Oval Office.

    March 19, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Fred

    If you chose to vote republican that early in the race, because you were told to, then your judgement is skewed.

    The votes should stand.

    March 19, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. jsm63

    I am a Michigan democrat, and voted for John McCain in the primaries. The democratic primary was meaningless, and if we are to have a Republican president, I prefer McCain to the other Republican primary candidates.

    Both Obama and Clinton are good candidates, but this issue really highlights the one of the most negative aspects of Hillary. All the primary candidates agreed with the DNC that Michigan and Florida would not be allowed to seat their delegates if they moved their primary dates...bad policy or not, it was agreed upon. Hillary apparently had no problem with it when she was the "inevitable candidate." Now that she has a race on her hands, not seating the FL and MI delegates works to her disadvantage, so she wants to change the rules. Once again, Hillary looks like the candidate that will say or do anything to win.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination through reversing the FL and/or MI policy, or through super-delegates, rather than the agreed upon process, my vote goes to McCain.

    March 19, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Grace Fauson, Kalamazoo, Michigan

    Why has everyone forgotten to lay the blame for the need to revote on Michigans Democratic party and legislatures who signed into law the early primary? These are the people we are disenfranchised with. Not the candidates nor the National Party who expressly stated the rules and consequences of going forth. To state that we will stay home in November or vote for John McCain is false. We need to take our anger out on the legislatures by voting them out of office at the earliest opportunity.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Nate, MD

    Obama doesn't want a re-vote, because he would probably get his behind kicked even worse than the first time his behind got kicked.



    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Jon McDaniel

    Like him or not, OBama's apparent to the preamble of the constitution in yesterdays speech at least indicates he is further along in his knowledge of that document than the current guy is.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Mike H.

    It is patently obvious that Obama doesn't want to see several million voters in Florida or Michigan enfranchised through a revote. Rationale: they are very likely to favor Clinton. And this is the man who wants to bring us all together!

    No, Obama would prefer that the highly undemocratic caucus process dictate the party's nominee. That process e.g. gave him 5 delegates in Alaska despite a margin of victory of only 199 votes among the 405 poeple that turned out. The 5 delegates represent the same total Clinton got by winning the Texas priamry by 100,000 votes. It that democracy?

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. OBAMA 2008 :)

    Details details.

    Just remember Michigan, please vote for Obama.
    He will be a breakthrough president.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. uchujin

    Hey, for all you morons out there.....Obama is simply doing something Hillary is incapable of doing.....Its called keeping your promise. Don't forget they both signed agreements accepting and honoring the DNC decision to punish FL and MI in this manner. It is HRC that should be scolded, not him.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Adam Bosso

    I find it disarming that this issue is being discussed now. The candidates should have taken issue with this prior to the primaries in FL and MI. Any argument regarding the disenfranchisement of voters is ex post facto. If the state were worried about disenfranchising voters, then they should have addressed the issue earlier and not illegally advanced their primaries.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. H.

    The states broke the rules, so live with the results. Billary is desperate, can you imagine what she would be saying if the shoe was on the other foot and she was in the lead. She placed her name on the ballot more for vanity than anthing else.

    March 19, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Lynne

    Ok – it's THIS simple:
    His name wasn't even on the ballot – duh
    Easy to win when you are the ONLY CANDIDATE ON THE BALLOT!!

    Come on people, dont' fall for the Clinton spin

    March 19, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Lisa/Oklahoma

    Everybody keep saying that this has only been a issue for her since she is behind, but she had been talking about this since late Jan. When she went to FL the evening of thier elections she was talking about helping them find a way to get seated. If I live in either of these two states I would want my vote counted and You could bet I would work on get the people out of office that made the decisions to move the vote up. These two states have to be counted one way or another. Dems have to be in the whitehouse come Nov, we can not stand for another 4 years of the same.

    March 19, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. Mitch

    Amazing! It seems to all you Clintonites that breaking the rules only applies to some and not to Billary...unbelievable...I hope their are no parents in these Clintonites agreeing to the rule breaking.

    March 19, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Kerry


    Your quote of Obama's speech does not even apply here. Good try though.

    MI and FL residents should take out any anger they feel on their state officials who knowingly broke the rules. What kind of example will we send to the rest of the world about democracy? As in Hillary's case, if the votes are in your favor, try to get a re-vote? A rushed re-vote?

    Al Gore and John Kerry had more justified reasons for a re-vote. Not you Hillary.

    March 19, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. uchujin

    By the way CNN, where's the comment I posted prior to the last one??????

    March 19, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Robert Ripperdan

    The Clinton team continues to display the same sort of pseudologic that makes me think she is running to be Emperor in the old fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes". So what if uncommitted got 40% of the votes cast in the DEMOCRATIC primary??? There's no way to know how many people cast votes in the Republican primary that would have voted for Obama if the Michigan primary had meant something!!!

    The Obama team is right to view the Michigan proposal with skepticism. America should view the Clinton team with more than skepticism. They should view them with mistrust.

    I've seen many politicians come, and go. I have never witnessed the type of twisting and juxtaposition of facts to turn a fabrication into a seemingly rational statement, as I have seen out of the Clinton team. They are ridiculous.

    I want to see Hillary make the same speech on sexism as Obama made on racism. Dollars to doughnuts she can't do it. That's why Obama can lead this country, and she cannot.

    March 19, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Issues Please.....

    DNC decided to penalize Michgan and Florida, not Obama and neither did Hillary. But Hillary just can't turned around and change the rules after stating that these two states didn't matter until she start lossing to Obama back in South Carolina. Plus do she really, honestly....think she can win in Michgan?

    We have loss almost 4000 solider in Iraq sinces 2003 and she have the gaul to bring this up now rather than giving her respect to our fallen troops. Please.

    March 19, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Mac in FL

    The DNC shoved their rules down everyone's throats.

    They gave little to no thought about what havoc their "rule" might cause.

    The DNC needs to admit their mistake and let the votes count as they were cast.


    March 19, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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