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. tooth

    What a phony in BHO. Now he has so many flags behind him, but wasn't he the one kept his hands between his legs while the national anthem was sung? Nobody questions his patriotism, but hypocrite is he.

    March 19, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. Grif

    What do you care....

    You would be no where in this race, if y7ou told the truth at the begining... Lets hope you win not more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |


    March 19, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. MIchael "C" in Lorton, Virginia

    Hillary Clinton stated that "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." Michigan and Florida understood the consequences of moving their primary dates up; and therefore the consequences are to be paid for that decision. I agree with Hillary's statement above on the right to vote, however , "the right to steal is illegal."

    March 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. dlr

    There are too many legal issues, over 300,000 voters that may not be able to vote in the re-vote (not fair to them) and a good percentage of their political structure has issues with it. Enough Already!!! Lets move on.

    If Mrs. Clinton had a different last name and if the media would stop trying to make a story of her life, this Democratic race would have been over last month!!! The media needs to elevate their type of news coverage!!!!

    March 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Chris

    If, as their memo state, the Clinton campaign truly 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," why weren't they protesting the DNC decision BEFORE the primaries in FL and MI? It is only a matter of convenience (or desparation) that the Clinton campaign is interested in the rights of FL and MI voters.

    As far as the taxpayers not footing the bill, I'm sorry, but it was the taxpayers' elected officials that allowed this to happen by not following DNC rules. Someone has to pay the price for this fiasco, and it should be those that let it happen in the first place.

    March 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Rules are Rules

    I agree Ron- Obama and Hillary supporters WE need to stop Hating on each other, about the likes and dislikes. If we want our party to win we need to stop. Unless you want McCain in the whitehouse.

    This race is about putting our party in the whitehouse. WE need to come together, start thinking and stop hating.

    March 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. JT

    Hillary's doublespeak is blatant.

    She wasn't so concerned about Michigan's right to vote when she wasn't behind in delegates was she?

    March 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Eric

    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.

    March 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. SteveF

    For sure there are many Democratic voters in Michigan that did vote Republican because felt that the vote for Hillary or Uncommitted was of no value. I am one of them and have talked to many people that did the same. So the point that Obama is making is true and a real concern. For myself, I would of voted for Obama in January and would vote for him today, but if a Michigan re-vote does occur, I will not be allowed because I made the choose in January to vote Replican because voting for Democrate was a wasted vote.

    March 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. Kevin

    I agree completely with Ron, and I live in Florida... different story but same effect, in my opinion.

    March 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. vicki $$$$$$$$


    OBAMA DID NOT CAUSE THIS PROBLEM . Hillary and Obama agreed to this stupid decision. they should have said no The politicians who created this problem should be ashamed of thenselves WHAT DID THEY GAIN BY MOVING UP THESE PRIMARIES WHAT EXACTLY WAS THE POINT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. deb in az

    i dont think the democrats that live in these states actually were the ones that voted to move the elections ahead........they deserve to vote just like anyone else.........

    March 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Tiffany Glenwood, IL

    There is such hypocrisy spewing from the Clinton campaign. Harold Ickes, a Clinton advisor, was on the committe responsible for disenfranching Florida & Michigan, firstlly. Secondly, how can one of the individuals responsible for this MESS, now turn it on the Obama campaign, and say he doesn't want the votes of these people counted. How ludicrous is that? I know everyone is supporting their campaign, but I can't follow the logic that this can somehow be Obama's fault! Please help me to understand. The two remaining candidates AGREED to the rules, don't make this a fault of the Obama campaign because he is still trying to follow them.

    March 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Interesting

    Obama has no control over whether there is vote or not. It's sad how Hillary will spin to no ends.

    Careful dems, Hillary will steal the election like it's silverware in the white house.

    March 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. beachnan

    Apparently the Obama camp wants to bring unity to the United States.....that is unless it hurts his campaign to be the nominee. Says one thing...does another. There is a pattern of saying what will get you elected, but not walking the walk. He is a politician afterall. Unfortunately, he is a politician with a lot less experience than others. He will not get my vote.

    March 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. paulie_nj

    I think a revote in MI should be allowed given the fact that Obama was not on the ballot. As for FL I think the need for a revote is a toss up. Since both of the remaining candidates were on the ballot it was fair in the sense that they both started from the same even ground. People keep saying it wasn't fair because the candidates did not get to campaign there but since neither had campaigned in FL there was really no advantage or disadvantage to either candidate. I think a fair compromise would be to give both candidates the votes they received, give them both delegates based on the percentage of the votes they won (50% to HRC and 33% to BHO) and take the remaining 17% of delegates and split them evenly between the 2. When it comes down to it, the votes and delegates from both states won't really make much difference anyway. The candidates will still be too close in overall votes and delegates for a clear winner and the superdelegates will ultimately be making the final choice, which they are free to choose whoever they want. One would think they will be looking forward to see who would be the most electable in a race against McCain in the GE.

    March 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Jose

    Clinton is LOSING so now she having to resort to cheating in order to win. Obama has more character in his pinky than Clinton's entire campaign. I urge Michigan to REJECT the people who are truly responsible for this tragedy, their own state's policymakers, not the DNC, and not Obama.

    Obama 08!

    March 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Ladyleo Atlanta

    This decision was made over a year ago why is Hillary just now pushing the issue? She did not push the issue before because she really does not care about the voters she just wants the delegates, she thought she would have the nomination all wrapped up on Super Tuesday.

    March 19, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Debbie

    Privately raised funds (translation, money from lobbyists) used for a public election?

    Isn't that like saying lobbyists give a politician money for no reason?

    March 19, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. Peggy

    The Clinton memo didnt even address the issues that were brough up by the Obama Lawer memo. WE KNOW VOTING IS A BEDROCK PRINCIPLE, WE GET IT, but that doesnt mean we have revotes when there are ISSUES with it.

    Like the memo said, some Democrats voted Republican because they knew the Dem primary wouldnt count!!

    March 19, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Too Bad you move your voting date up, knowing full well of the repercussions. Now you want to cry about it. Get over it Michigan/Florida. Hillary is even quoted saying that the wins didnt matter. Now suddenly "the voters need a voice". Cry me a river. You're so worried about the voice, ok split the delegates evenly down the middle for both candidates. Problem solved. The end.

    March 19, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. La Petite Sorciere

    Ron what do you think should happen? Hillary agreed that your votes not count, now she wants them to count , as a voter there tell us what do you think...............

    March 19, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. SR

    Ron, I live in N.C. I have been a loyal dem voter 24 years. My vote in the primary has never mattered: almost all the candidates are gone by the time I get to vote May6. This isn't fair. No one could think so. Fl and Mi moved their primaries because they were already disenfranchised from a meaningful vote. We don't live in the age of stagecoaches anymore. Everyone should and could vote on the same day. BTW Puerto Rico is being allowed to move their primary. DNC tailors its rules to serve Sen. Obama's interests, and is biased against Sen. Clinton.

    March 19, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. Mark

    No one could have predicted that the election would be this close and that each and every state would be crucial. I would be willing to bet that the same people who think that there shouldn't be re-votes in MI and FL also think that "superdelegates" should not overturn the will of the people". Well how can you know what the "will of the people" is if you do not let them all have their say as to what their will really is?

    For the record, I agree with Ron. Put the blame where it belongs and penalize the state legislature not the people. Let them vote and find a punishment that does not alienate the vast majority of voters in the state.

    Gotta love Obama's idea of "democracy" – votes should count as long as they are in states where they are voting for him. Would he have the same position if this discussion were about Illinois? I doubt it.

    March 19, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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