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. Dave Froyalde/Washington

    I am wondering why the camp of Senator Obama is blocking any efforts to let the voices of Florida and Michigan be heard in this primary contest. I thought one of their campaign theme is inclusion. this is not inclusion or unity to me. This is just another attempt of Senator Obama's camp to win the election without regard to the millions of voters if these two great states.

    March 19, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. JT


    Obama is not responsible for the fact that Michigan's vote doesn't count. Let me say it again, OBAMA IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. Michigan knew the consequences of their actions when they moved their primary against the party rules. It was the DEMOCRATIC PARTY that decided Michigan's votes won't count.

    Hillary didn't care about Michigan's right to vote when she was behind in delegates.

    March 19, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. PA

    Polls across the country have shown that both Obama and Clinton receive votes from both Republicans and Independants. If Michigan is going to have another primary and they do not normally have closed primaries, then they should have an open primary for all voters.

    March 19, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. SP73

    I'm from Michigan too.
    Since when does a political party have so much power? The Constitution says that the federal government has enumerated powers (which it lists) and all other powers go to the STATE. There is no mention of political parties in the Constitution.

    March 19, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Ken, Austin TX

    Wow. The media built Obama up...only to tear him apart. I can't believe this.

    March 19, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. CB

    If you jump into a pool with no water. You can't jump out and refill.
    When you knew it was no water in the pool in the first place.

    March 19, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Obama supporter

    Obama is correct you need to not only be ready on day one but also right on day one. Unfortunately he is neither; he wasn’t right on day one when buying his home. He hasn’t been right on day one for over 20 years picking Rev. Wright.

    What a hypocrite! I am black and I am switching to vote for Clinton–she deserves it.

    March 19, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Tami

    I think Michigan should do the same thing we are doing in Florida. Since the Democratic party has turned their back on us and don`t want our votes to count now, we are signing pledges to boycott the November election. With the race so close try winning without us.Michigan jion us.

    March 19, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. wolf

    "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

    Wolf please stop your bias we are sick of it. when did the clinton compaign start to believe the above statement ?. The answer is after hillary start to fall behind in delegetes.

    March 19, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Earl (NJ/PA)

    I think having a revote in Michigan and Florida is a slap to the face of the American people and should not be tolerated. Rules are rules...and as it relates to this political contest - there should be exceptions to the rules. Both states should understand why the political machines in their states went against the DNC and voted out of turn and since the people in MI and FL did nothing to have their voices heard before the ruling came down....YOUR VOICES SHOULD NOT BE HEARD NOW!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Anybody but Clinton

    She signed an agreement that those two states wouldn't count; now she wants them-too bad.

    March 19, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. citizen


    Wwhy 50-50? It is unfair to Clinton. Not acceptable to millions.

    March 19, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. anon

    Michigan and Florida's civil disobedience should be applauded! It's ridiculous to let four small states have more influence than the other 46 combined!

    SEAT THE MI AND FL delegates!

    March 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. William

    Obama is doing everything possible to block a re-vote in Michigan. Looks like he will succeed.

    March 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Ohiobo, J

    Obama's compaign is a master of double talk. They, the Obama speak from both sides of their mouth. Obama is the worst kind of politician. Re-vote or the Democrates are headed for a defeat in November.

    March 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. Greg

    Vote out every current politician. Politicians took away the right to vote. Democrats may need a tie breaker to solve their mess and the politicians have stolen the rights of citizens. Non-party candidates should enter the race because Democrats and Republicans have ruined the political process. Everyon should register and vote for independents until the major parties reform.

    March 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. E. Bertin

    Obama is the best for the future of not only America but also for the entire HUMANITY. Do not miss the oportunity to make it happen !!! The world is watching and this is time for America to prove it is the best country in the world. Obama only can make it happen !!!

    March 19, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Craig

    If you told your children not to drive the car and two of them ignored you,drove the car and wrecked it, would you quickly find a way to buy them a new one? Lack of accountability at all levels is one of the chief problems this country faces.
    Hiram Rapids, Oh.

    March 19, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Bill-K

    Obama camp is afraid of a re-vote. They will stop at nothing. Obama – I thought every vote should count. Again more lies. Every vote should count, every voice heard. Anything less is a flawed system.

    March 19, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Bob

    They are attacking before anything has happend! What are they scared of?

    March 19, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Isaac

    I agree rules are established for a reason and they should be enforced. If there is a problem we can only blame the powers that be and thats the state legistature. We should just split the delegates 50 – 50 and move on. Yes. I am an Obama supporter but I started off as a Hillary supporter. I change because I see that she will do anything even risk splitting the party in hopes to overcome the overwhelming coalition that Obama has established.

    March 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Bill

    My wife and I are both Democrats on January 15th we both voted in the Republican Primary as ours was meaningless. I do blame the state Democratic party and their leadership or lack there of for this fiasco. Please stand up take accountability for your actions. Hurry up and solve this mess and stop politically posturing.

    March 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Carol

    GO away, Obama! You are hindering this country from moving forward! You are full of TALK but behind you is nothing but deceit and immaturity!

    March 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Nita

    Of course Senator Clinton wants a Do Over paid for by private donations. Isn't that a Clinton paid for and purchased election????
    They should just donate the estimated 12million to the DNC and find a way to defeat McCain. Because that is ehere this is headed. If she is the nominee and she loses the general election is she going to try to bully, sue, cry, hooler,place the race card or what for a General Election DO OVER??????????? Hillary go away already

    March 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. ky

    Why is this continually happening Michigan and Florida knew the rules of the DNC and decided within their state to not follow the rules but they went ahead and held their primaries early which stripped them of their delegates. If the people of these states are upset be upset at their state politicians they are the ones that did it to them leave the Obama and Clinton campaigns out of it. It didn't count they all knew it so leave them out or settle it and divide it equally to both candidates but a re-vote that would cost money to either the states or the candidates or to have support money come in is definetely unfair to one or the other campaign. Just give it up and let's move on.

    March 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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