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. Lee From Treasure Island Florida

    Besides breaking the rules and being permitted a 'do-over' there are many problems here. Michigan's legislature has vote on a re-vote, there is the cost of running a re-vote, and the question of is it legal.
    Clinton's own co-chair in Michigan said "it wouldn't make that much difference'.
    So why is CNN spinning this that Obama is HOLDING UP a revote and not letting the voices of the Michigan people be heard?
    All he is obeying the rules.

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. Btuckguy

    As a Michigan native, it appears to me as though us voters are being scammed. Hillary breaks party rules, remains on the ballot along with Kucinich, and of course takes the popular vote. It is impossible to have a fair vote when the majority of the candidates are not on the ballot.

    What Michigan legislators did was wrong, and strange. But what is stranger is our governor's cry for the votes to be counted without revote. Note also that all of our superdelegates have pledged Clinton, along with our governor. Hmm, perhaps Granholm was promised a position in Clinton's administration if she found a way to screw over the state? Perhaps the identical haircuts have warped both of their brains? There is something strange going on here...

    March 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. Mercedes

    Any political junkies as myself knows that last year she had no problem agreeing with the decision of the DNC. Now the elections hasn't favored her and so we must now agree to break the DNC's decision. Well no! I live in Miami and I did vote in the primary eventhough it wasn't going to count. Many people I know didn't even bothered. So enough with this mess. We must move on and next election do as is told or pay the consequences.

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. BlameGame?

    Why is everyone so angry at Hillary or Obama when the real resentment should be pointed at the people who choose (against the rules of the DNC) to leap frog out of turn....Why not go after these people?

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. rrr

    Hillary, please just follow the rules and stop dividing your party.

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. ejmounsey Granville Ohio

    Only registered Democrats should be allowed to vote in the Michigan revote primary. ALL Democrats should be allowed to vote even if they did vote in the earlier primary.

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. Tim

    Why is it any different for Obama to say that Florida and Michigan shouldn't redo their primaries but if Clinton says every vote should count then shes trying to rig the election .Its obvious he doesn't think voters in these states have changed their minds or he wouldn't care .
    How can Obama set back and say this election should be decided by pledged delegates instead of super delegates then say its ok to not let the voters of these two states be heard .Like always Obama can have double standard but nobody else can .Way to go news media .

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. No Hope

    Yes, let's suppress the vote.

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. carmela

    If you agree to play by the rules and sign on the dotted line then you should abide by them. I don't see the Obama camp asking for a revote in Ohio. There were rules there too.

    March 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. Dan

    Obama is a cheater. he;ll do anything to win, don't count the votes is what Bush will be remembered for. He lied all of last week saying he never heard his racsist minister deliver hate speech only to admit that he did after people wanted to see his date schedule of when he was in the church.

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. sw

    "We need change", "Yes we can", "I have a dream", "You have to let a black guy from Michigan to get his vote counted", "Clinton machine try to deprive people's right to vote".

    Those are the stuff Obama will say if he is trailing and want a revote, agree?

    Wake up, obama is finished, he has no chance against McCain if he steals the democrats nomination. he knows that, but it is all about "me", it is all about political positioning!

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. B. Mull

    As one Hillary supporter put it, Give Me A Break!!! Because "Uncommitted" was on the ballot (doing fairly well, I might add), Obama voters were supposedly represented? What's next–Is Hillary going to lock herself in a room and refuse to come out unless she gets the nomination?

    This is yet another way that Hillary hurts Obama's candidacy. If she doesn't back down, then at some point Obama has to come out and (rightly) tell Michigan he's vetoing their re-vote. That's not going to be popular with everybody, and could hurt him in November.

    Howard Dean, this is what you get the big bucks for. Where the Hell are you???

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  13. Andre, Hyattsville MD

    Apparently alot of you have trouble understanding the concept of rules, ergo, the concept of laws. The laws were clear. The laws were not followed. As a result, the punishment that they were warned about is now coming about.

    I have no idea why this is even a discussion.

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. 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- by the PARTY- NOT by Senator Obama. Hillary Clinton voted in FAVOR of the delegation NOT being seated if they broke the rules.She once again wants to change the rules so that she can steal th election.
    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 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. SW-GA

    Hillary... Michigan and Florida broke the rules and now wants to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. That is a desperate attempt on the Clinton campaign to win and such a turn off. Both Florida and Michigan knew the rules. And now since she is behind she is doing her best to cheat her way to the top. There would not be such a mess going on now if it were not for Hillary and her drama! She supported the rules in the beginning so why now is she trying to do whatever it takes to change them to her advantage. EVERYONE knew the rules! And if she weren't going around crying about this and causing such an uproar people would not be so divided now. She and her Campaign have tried to run Obama into the ground. You guys are supporting Hillary knowing she is dead wrong. She is just like Bush! Do you not see where this old style politics has gotten us so far???? HILLARY IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF DIVISIVE!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Texas Momma

    It would benefit Obama's campaign to allow for an honest re-vote. In an honest re-vote, he could even garner more delegates than Hillary. However, the real issue is that this is a potential disaster on many fronts. Because of the problems, liabilities and incredible cost, it is just not worth it.

    And, who deemed MI and FL Obama's fault? (Clinton) Does anyone remember, they LOST their delegates – they were punished. We have only "forgotten" that small detail because the Clinton's are losing.

    Clinton has succeeded in twisting this campaign enough that she has otherwise intelligent women who cannot see what a moral and ethical nightmare she is for our country.

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. NIC

    Barack campaign is stalling, hinting to possible legal actions to cause delays and maybe stop the vote. Very clever Barack aids! Basically, the Barack campaign are trying to run out the clock. Just read the memo, thats the obvious intent. Stall and run out the clock so that he doesn't appear as haulting/stopping the vote. Very clever, I dont buy your tactics, but im sure all you Clinton Haters will. Way to go, way to disenfranchise voters!

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. Charles (California USA)

    This story will give voters the impression that Obama does not want every vote to count. Or that he does not want all states to be counted during this primary election.

    But the big question is why these problems popped up because all those kinds of things should have been overcome by Congress and the White House already. Voters are sick and tired of "snoozing on the job politics". We should have had a full scale review of how we conduct elections years ago, in light of what has been happening during the last few elections.

    March 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. piecrust

    Why do people insist and rub in on Hillary as member of the board of Walmart. She represented the Rose Law Firm because she was a corporate lawyer, that was her job. She became a member only because she was appointed by her client or shareholders for that matter. She did not go to Arkansas and say I want to be a member!!!! Stupid mentality!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. TRINA

    "Obama is unbelievable. It's so obvious he's trying to get out of doing a re-vote in Michigan because he knows he would lose there. He says he is for the people, but really he's not. He's only thinking of himself and is willing to deny people the right to vote."

    Who exactly is Hillary thinking about the voters? Surely your not dumb enough to believe that, then again after reading your ridiculous statement,...maybe you are.

    March 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |

    I support the Democrats, period. Vote, Revote, listen to yourselves! Seems to me there was a consequence given at the beginning. Move the dates and lose the right to seat your delegates. I do feel sorry for the voters in both concerned states. Your officials that made these decisions for you should be reminded of them when they come up for reelection.
    This whole mess really has nothing to do with HRC or BO. It has to do with the elected officials in each state making the decisions.
    Seriously, think about it.

    March 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Obama 08

    Reading some of your comments I see very clear that you all have personal anguish against Sen Obama. Sad to say that in 2008 America, some people still let their personal problems and issues reflect upon the lives of others.

    Obama 08

    March 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. TWhite

    Hey superdelegates, WAKE UP!!!! Is Hillary Clinton truly what you want for a candidate. A person who snubs her nose at the party she supposedly reprents. You as a party decided on the rules. Michigan and Florida broke them. She is running to be the main representative of the party as the President. Do you want to be known as the party of complaiing rule changes for your own benefit, washington politics as usual or do you want to finally stand up and show the country that ruiles have to be followed. Once the game is over then change the rules, but not in the middle. I for one and I know of many many others who feel the same, if there is a revote and Hillary wins the nomination, she will not get my vote. The party will be destroyed and viewed as untrustworthy. I certainly don't want anyone in office that I can't trust to keep their word and stand by there decision.

    March 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Ritta

    So Obama is not standing up for the people of Michigan. He's putting them under the bus with his Grandmother. What makes people think he would be a great president.

    March 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Wes

    Its interesting to see who the true political vultures are when CNN leaves the steak out. The accusations on the Obama campaign is sooo divisive. To throw out comments based on the fact that "he's the devil because I say he's the devil" and un-democratic because his lawyers raise a question.

    Seriously, they could be "those kind" of Republicans that are in love with Rush Limbaugh, calling on Republicans to get Hillary elected, and as was blatantly reported after Obama gave his speech yesterday. That there are actually Americans that have openly admitted to voting for Hillary because she would be easier to beat. What's that? First time hearing. Not surprising.

    March 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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