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. Kathy

    The only thing Hillary cares about is "every vote counting" for her. She will try to win by any means possible, no matter how low. She should just get out and stop dividing the party; if McCain wins in November the Dems can and should blame Hillary Clinton.

    March 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Seattle Sue Seattle, Wa.

    I have more doubts about Obama everyday. I think every citizen has the right to have their vote counted.

    March 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Stephen

    Obama=crash and burn

    March 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. nyiaj

    Why are people even discussing having a revote. Didn't Michigan, along with the campaigns and the DNC have an understanding from the outset that the vote in Michigan wouldn't count? Why are they changing the rules in the middle of the game? Why even say you're going to punish them only to later on do whatever is necessary to make sure that they don't get punished? The DNC needs to stick with the original understanding and stop with this talk of a revote. Let's stick to the rules!

    March 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. Jefferson in Toronto, Canada


    Honestly, Barack Obama does not deserve to be the nominee. He is doing nothing to do what is right: consider Michigan and Florida. Simply put, he is a coward and afraid to hear the voice of MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA.

    March 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. MDM

    First of all, I'm from MI – and I voted in the "meaningless" Dem primary. But let's make something clear here. MI and FL broke party rules. The DNC warned us, we did it anyway, now we're acting like the whining child who got put in time out.

    If you're looking for someone to blame – don't blame the DNC, blame the state legislature and the governor's office. They're the ones who have brought this on us.

    And if you really want to stick it to the DNC – don't revote. Let them sort out the mess of no one getting enough delegates.

    March 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. DB

    Where was Mrs. Clinton's outrage when the DNC imposed its initial punishment. She has only become concerned about FL and MI voter's votes when it is politically beneficial. This family must be "rejected and repudiated" once and for all.

    March 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Chip Pudims

    So much for every vote counts! I feel sorry for those the really think this immature, inexperienced and inconsistent politician can really change things in DC. He is only creditable where he can influence those who can't think for themselves, not as the de facto leader of the free world.

    March 19, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Enrique

    Hillary is playing political games. She didn't care about the Michigan or Florida votes until it became clear that she was actually losing this race. Now that it's politically convenient for her, she's making it seem like she cares about the voters in those states.

    March 19, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Keith P. CA

    Rules are rules people! If Clinton wants a re-vote in Florida and Michigan then she should loan them the money to finance it.

    Hanging chad all over again, Clinton knows without Florida and Michigan, she has no chance of getting the nomination. Unless she buys it!

    March 19, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Be Real

    Let's correct one wrong with an other. Disenfranchising the disenfranchised doesn't isn't a fix. I guess it's OK for Hillary to ignore the legal aspects of a Michigan re-vote. No wonder she failed the D.C bar exam.

    March 19, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. LucieLee

    Sounds like a bit of desperation on the part of Hillary Clinton~~!! Once again she has to gain political points through photo-ops....which are doing nothing helpful in her fading quest to be the Democratic nominee...Sorry Hillary.....get over it~!!

    March 19, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Sal in Phoenix

    Of course he's going to say a re-vote will be a problem for Michigan & Florida..The last thing Obama wants is a re-vote because he knows that Clinton will lock-up the nomination..He's a lying joke, except it's not funny!

    March 19, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Nikita

    Obama seeks to disenfranchise the sovereign right of voters. Obama does not speak for Michigan/Florida voters nor does he represent the people of this nation.

    March 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. bajj2008

    If states do this re-vote irrespective of who puts the pressure on is simply a discredit to the democratic system itself. Right or wrong, face the consequences of the decisions made than changing the decision itself. That's why we have history full of anectodes. Once the decision has been executed, learn from it to move on than to re-visit the decision.

    March 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Vote Obama

    So the blithering ignoramances who ahve responded to this article don"t understand that the ONLY reason Hillary is crying about the re-vote is so she can wibnt more delegates!!!!!!!!!!!


    Obama has a right to want this to be done FAIRLY nad if that cannot be accomploshes then it should be done. You Hillary supporters would feel the same way if the shoe were on the other foot!!!

    Don't let her steam roll you Obama!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Brooke

    Obama makes me shake my head in disbelief. If he were truly about change and bringing people together he would have sided with the people, the voters, instead of the DNC. But, I'm sure that too is Hillary's fault... according to the Obama mob mentality he can do no wrong and she can do no right.

    March 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Johnny

    Clinton is an opportunist........she can do whatever it requires to win...if she were in Obama's position, she would have told and done whatever it requires to stop the revote... American people aren't that dumb!! They alredy know your tactics and negative better go home and vote for obama in November and appreciate that DNC has a great leader like Obama..coz, you can't do what Obama can do....

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Chris In California

    Barack Obama VOLUNTARILY took his name off of the Michigan ballot. I think he thought this would be a strategy if things should turn out just as they have.

    The will of the voters should stand just as they have voted. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    And, I have to say that, in seeing how Howard Dean cannot seem to run an entity such as the DNC, it is a good thing he did not get into the White House when he ran for President. I don't think he could have handled it.

    BARACK OBAMA: Please do not squelch the voices of the voters of Michigan and Florida. Let's keep this democratic as it should be.

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Melissa

    Hillary's camp is up to dirty politics as usual. She'll stop at nothing until she tears the Democratic Party apart. That's why I'm voting for Sen. Obama. OBAMA 2008!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. jim

    The DNC, DNC State organizations and their candidates can't even manage their primary elections properly. This leaves me with no confidence regarding them managing the problems facing the U.S.

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. Bob

    Obama = Nothing but Hot Air!

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. Greg

    Absolutely no way they should do a re-vote. The state knew what they were doing when they moved the primary up. Now they must accept it.

    It is almost unthinkable that the Clinton campaign would try to force the issue and have these votes count after the party enforced the rules. Just shows how far they are willing to go. They have already demonstrated that they are willing to risk destroying the party just to give her a glimmer of a hope. Just imagine how dangerous a person like this could be as leader of the free world.

    March 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Wendi - Ohio

    Let the state parties do a re-vote and pay for it. Their mistake, their dime.. or rather their constitutes dime. It's unfortunate, but it doesn't look like MI or FL state officials were looking out for the best interest of their residents. To Hiliary, play fair and follow the rules – the votes don't count. To Obama, if the states feel they made a mistake and want to pay for a re-vote it is their choice. Their choice, their mistake, their dime.

    March 19, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Paul

    There's no Constitutional right to vote in a primary. It's funny that Clinton Republicans want Michigan's votes to count but are still willing to circumvent democracy and steal the nomination with the help of superdelegates.

    March 19, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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