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. PAM

    Why should Obama ok a re-vote when it's apparent that there's some potential legal issues that will be a problem with the votes. What you people who are bashing him don't understand is that he doesn't have a problem with a revote, however, his campaign is fully aware of the unethical things Clinton supporters will do to win. This is a process, in that Clinton decided to go against what the rules were. This is the type of judgement that we need from our next president...careful judgement...not quick judgement. Clinton only wants to cooperate when it's appropriate for her.

    March 19, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Anonymous

    She just can't help herself can she? Hillary will try to win at any cost

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Ruslyn Schultz

    I'd have more respect for Hillary Clinton if she would have stood by her principles at the time before these primaries were held, not after they came out in her favor.

    I want someone of conviction in the White House, someone that has principles that guide them and stands by them. None of the candidates display them that great, but there's no example worse than this so far in the primary season.

    If this is a stance on the principle on the value of each vote being counted for Hillary, she would not have agreed to the rules prior to the primaries starting. You can't agree to it then, oppose it now, and make it an arguement on principle. It doesn't work, it only displays the politics of politics, and frankly, most Americans are pretty tired of that.

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Michael Guinn Ventura, CA

    The Clinton (win at any cost) Camp is at it again-saying Senator Obama has brought in lawyers, that Senator Obama is to blame for this mess, that Senator Obama is full of "hot air".
    The truth of the matter is that Michigan voted when they wre told NOT to- but the PARTY- NOT by Senator Obama. Hillary Clinton voted in FAVOR of the delegation NOT being seated if they broke the rules.
    You people need to get your FACTS straight before opening your hateful mouths. You need to remember that you are supposed to be Democrats.
    The split in the party is due to your lies, distortions, and innuendo.It's time to face the music and GO AWAY!

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Ken

    As an independent voter, I voted for a Republican nominee in the Michigan Republican primary. However, that nominee is no longer in the race, and therefore, I feel as an independent voter, I deserve the right to re-cast my vote for a candidate I feel is more similar to my views than any of the remaining potential presidential nominees. That candidate in Barack Obama. And so, for Hillary to suggest that Obama supporters have been heard, is inaccurate. Many independent voters who voted in the Republican primary would likely vote for Obama in a new re-vote. And that is precisely, what she is afraid of.

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. La Petite Sorciere

    So many of us, will vote for McCain even if that means 4 more years of self destruction to this nation. Why is anyone standing up to the Clinton Machine?????????????? where is the leadership of the DNC???

    The supporters of HIllary and Billary, continue to ignore the big problem that only one person courageous enough to voice it at the national level has voiced it. Billary does not walk the talk and like her supporters continue to think that America is still inthe 60s where one can say I am a civil right fighter, but i will not support equaltity for all but only for a few.................
    this is Billary status quo politics............

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. PA

    Hey CNN – media bias?!?

    Obama is giving a speech right now on the War in Iraq and NOBODY is showing it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You guys cut away to Hillary's comments about Michigan and you can't play Obama's comments on the WAR? People are dying and he is probably going to be the nominee. Should we hear what he has to say? Isn't that covering the NEWS Will you show the speech later?? Come on, I see Bill Clinton giving speeches all the time on CNN and you can't show Obama?

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Jules


    How far will senator Hillary Clinton go with her attacks or "discent" against the DNC for a rule that was crafted by some of her top advisors and aggreed on by all the major presidential candidates ??

    Why is she attacking her own political party by telling the public that the DNC wants to disfranchise voters in Michigan and Florida, and that the DNC's act is un-american ??

    Jules, Tennessee.

    March 19, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Political Jonze

    Now she's trying tto piggyback off of Obama's speech yesterday by saying this vote is more than a vote, but a civil rights issue. Of course flying specifically to Detroit to make that claim is rather transparent in itself.

    Why didn't she make these same concerns known when it was first discussed to strip Michigan and Fla of their delegates? For the same reason she voted for the war even though she says she was really against it? So it's vote one thing, but believe another?

    March 19, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Hiro

    Michigan knew the rules, and chose to break them. VOTE EARLY = LOSE YOUR DELEGATES.

    I don't understand why there's even a debate.

    March 19, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Tyler in Raleigh

    Clinton does not believe it is a right for people to vote. She believes that people that vote for her have the right to a voice.

    Caucuses do not count, small states dont, red states dont, african americans dont.... only 5-6 big dem states that vote for her count in her opinion.

    Now that she needs FL and MI, she puts them in her elite category.

    March 19, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Bill

    Is there anyone left in the country who doesn't realize what a hypocrite Obama is ? After yesterday's dog & pony show I certainly hope not.

    March 19, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. lou

    Lets change the rules cause we are losing.Wake up Billary voters. This woman is poison for the country. HOW CAN YOU ALL BE SO BLIND!!!! This Clinton team is Toxic for the country.

    March 19, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Andrea

    Talk about disenfranchising the voters! How does Obama think this is going to play out in the general election IF he were to get the nomination? Talk about trying to do anything to get elected! If Obama doesn't work towards a new election in Michigan (and also Florida, although that seems unlikely now) he will be putting his political aspirations in front of the voting public. How can democrats discount two of the most important states in the general election! It is ridiculous! He should agree to a re-vote in both states and them campaign so they can deem the election fair. If the situation was reversed you better believe he would be asking for a re-vote. Wake up democrats of both Clinton and Obama supporters! If this was your state wouldn't you want your vote counted?! This should be appalling to all democrats no matter who your vote is going for.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Obama 08

    The rules are the rules. Sen Clinton is trying to change the rules because she is losing and you all are blaming Sen Obama? Thats like losing a NFL or NBA game and then say you want to play it over because a teammate got disqualified during the game. Both states were disqualified and thats the end of it they fouled out. I know a lot of you have some resentment towards Sen Obama for your own personal reasons but use your brains and wisdom here people. Both states were told their vote would not count from the beginning how all of a sudden is Sen Clinton pushing for the votes to count and not only that they will count twice as much as they would have if they were not disqualified to begin with.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Stretch

    I don't understand Clinton supporters at this point. Unless Obama goes to jail or withdraws from his campaign there is no chance she will be the nominee. I am saying this as a former Clinton supporter. She really does not have a chance to beat him with the popular vote or delegate count at this point especially now that Florida will not re-vote so it is really hopeless to stand behind her now. Her campaign waited way too long to get serious and unfortunately it is much too late to bring her back now. We might as well unite under Obama now and move past the primary process which has been tearing the party apart.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Sylvia

    Communist News Networks at it again by not posting comments. What are you afraid of CNN..that people will refute your garbage.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Chris, Orlando

    Sore losers... No, more like SCARED losers. What a wimp for taking the low road on this issue. Obama gives a speech on civil rights and equality and fairness, and now pulls this garbage. Just when I thought that your credibility had flatlined, Barack, I'm again proven that there are lower depths to which you'll stoop.

    Resist The Temptation. Do Not Vote For This Guy.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. LaTonya

    Obama did not lose MI or FL, there simply was no contest. As a resident of Michigan, with the news that the votes would not count, I simply did not vote. I disagree with a re-vote, and honestly, don't feel disenfranchised as rules were implemented and not taken seriously. If the votes were going to count, Obama supporters, and many others would have exercised their right to do so. You can't change the rules in the middle of the game. Not allowing a re-vote would simply be following the rules. I agree with Ron, bottom line, please understand who is to blame if you personally feel disenfranchised. Maybe next time around we'll get the hint to play by the rules:)

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. j c deveau

    Obama is going to bring DOWN the Dems. I am for the first time going to vote for a Republican. I AM NOT falling in with this countries fear of being a racist and voting for that piece of so and so.
    GO McCAIN!

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. D9

    I'm still at a lost at how some people want to avoid acknowledging the problem here. Michigan *chose* to break the rules of its Democratic Party. So now Clinton supporters want to put the blame on Obama because he won't allow a "railroad" revote.

    This is the kind of pathetic, divisive and vindictive politics that the Clintons are so adept at doing. I truly weep for the continued partisan quagmire this country will endure if this candidate is elected. All we'll get is blame, blame, blame when what we truly need is leadership in a new direction.


    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Jordan Howard

    Once again Florida has messed up the election process. Not a suprise at all. What really bothers me is that Michigan and Florida are more like babies than states when it comes to this issue. They were told not to hold the primaries early or they wouldn't count, they go ahead and do it, cry about it and try to get their way. Kind of like a kid being told not to touch a hot stove, they do and they get burned. Don't blame Barrack for following the rules.

    Hillary proves to us once again that she flip flops on whatever suits her. She needs the votes and think that if she fights hard enough that the voters of Michigan and Florida will side with her for fighting. How about sticking to your original statement for a change Hillary.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. plaforce

    No revote in either state. Lets get back to what is most concerning to america, JOBS, ECONOMY, WAR!!!!

    You folks are acting like REPUBLICANS bashing dems!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Peg

    I live in Michigan, I was not given a say in the decision by Michigan to "go early" and thus be penalized, so why should there suddenly be a revote to help either candidate. TOO LATE, MY FRIENDS!

    Furthermore, I think Obama would win in stop saying he doesn't want a revote HERE because he would lose, I don't think that would be the case at all.

    Neither Florida nor Michigan should have a revote, our leaders in our states disenfranchised us, not the party. It's too late to do a costly and potentially flawed revote. Move on............give it up. Hillary cannot hide her real objective here in spouting how she "believes in every vote..." when her campaign agreed to the rules as well.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. uchujin


    As I understand it, political parties are free to run their nominating processes any way they see fit so long as it doesn't discriminate on the usual basis (i. e. race, sex, religion etc.)

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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