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. NJ

    Clinton is a lawyer and she doesn`t see legal issues ??????????
    Flip – flop again.

    March 19, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. D.W.; Miami, FL

    A Democrat seeking private funding for a public election. If that's not desperate I can hardly imagine what is.

    Hillary is lobbying hard for the VP position and I believe that she should be McCain first choice!

    March 19, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Dave in Alexandria, VA

    If 90% of Obama and Edwards supporters voted uncommitted, while 99% of Clinton supporters voted HRC, and the remaining 10% of Obama supporters and 1% of Clinton supporters voted in the GOP primary, than this is a valid point.

    March 19, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. worth repeating...

    If Obama thinks that trying to shut Michigan and Florida out of the picture completely is not going to come back and haunt him, then he is as delusional as his minister. He can't win the General Election without these folks, not to mention a few other big states that he's lost. And this ain't basketball, Barack. The 25 second shot clock is up. You can't hold the ball forever you know.

    March 19, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. NCLaw441

    I tell you, the democrats sure do show us how NOT to handle an election. They should never say another thing about Republicans botching elections. Republicans were no where near this. Whatever happened to playing by the rules that were established AND AGREED TO by the candidates??

    March 19, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. J O

    You do not need a re-count, re-do or re-vote, if OBAMA would do the RIGHT THING and STEP DOWN

    March 19, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. charlie in Philly

    Do the Clintonists realize that all parties have already agreed to not count Michigan? This talk of disenfranchising people is nonsense. The Clintons didn't have a problem with this when the agreed upon rules were set in 2007. This is spin on their behalf.

    Don't blame Obama – blame the State Democratic Party.

    March 19, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. T in Ann Arbor

    I live in Michigan, and would have voted for Obama if his name was there. It wasn't, and we were ALL told that the Democratic vote wouldn't count for anything. So I voted in the Republican primary (for Ron Paul, if you must know).

    I'm not even close to the only one that this happened to. But one could say that I made my bed and now have to sleep in it.

    March 19, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Onyemkpa Chukwuma - Brussels

    doesn't the bedrock of american principle also include the rule of law – that no (wo)man or institution is above the law. The law was clear from the start to MICHIGAN STATE LEGISLATURE (makers of law) that they should not hold their primaries when they did!!! YET they ignored the LAW....!!???

    March 19, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Donell Pollard

    Play by the rules. The DNC should have been challenged as soon as they established the schedule and it should have been settled then. Leaving your name on the ballot, seeing what happens and then challenging is more than a little suspect. If there is a legal problem then that needs to be addressed - is someone saying don't follow the law?

    March 19, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. NLC frm New York

    What is the Obama's campaign affraid of. I think I know, no one tells Michigan or Florida that their votes are meaningless.

    March 19, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. paulie_nj

    Ron, everyone knows that Obama supporters are against a revote and Clinton supporters are for a revote, all for the obvious reason that it will hurt Obama and will help Clinton. But don't think for 1 second that either candidate would not be doing the same as the other if the shoe were on the other foot. And just so you know, a revote is not against the rules as long as there is a justifiable reason for it.

    March 19, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Thee

    So, let's see Hillary wants a re-vote in Michigan, but she doesn't want everyone to vote, like how it happened in the other states??? Yet she is accusing Obama's campaign of denying the people of Michigan the right to vote??? What a manipulative person.

    I used to truly like and respect the Clintons, and before I got to Know Obama, I thought Clintons were the best chance for America to find itself again. But now, it has become anybody, but Hillary Clinton. She is scaring the hell out of me!

    March 19, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. Norm

    Why not just stop here, put hillary at top of ticket for four years. Then alternate for the next 4 election cycles
    It would look like this
    Simple and sweet................ Comeon Already!

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Pat M Canada

    Obama is the only one entagling the issues! Let's be honest.

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Chris, PENN

    Obama doesn't want re-vote in florida or michigan. Some leader for democracy he is. count the vote when its good and fight to discount voters when its bad for his career. This is the type of integrity and character we do not need in a democracy! Hyprocisy needs to go!

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Manuel TX


    Now who's the one who will do or say anything to get elected?

    This is not the first time that Obama has pulled out the lawyers to win an election. He did it in Illinois too.


    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. AMK

    Nobody forced Obama to pull out of the Michigan election....he did by his own accord. I say let the vote stand and be a lesson to him that you need to be "in it, to win it."

    To the DNC: Do not silence the voices of almost 5 million Americans who believe in democracy. They have a say just as much as Oprah does.

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Mike

    Calculus of votes is change you can believe in.

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. seah

    Then count their votes. Every Americans vote should count. No One can help you were stupid enough to take your name off of an election ballot.
    That was your own fault.

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Bright

    All those calling for a revote should read memo issued by the Obama camp. I trust wise and intelligent people will be able to understand the complexity of the matter. A lack of in depth understanding of a possible legal entanglement in a revote is what is prompting some supporters of Clinton to make unnecessary claims for a revote. Remember it is only now that Clinton thinks the people of Michigan matter. Wake up and open yours eyes, learn to read and decide for yourself.

    March 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. D in MA

    Why would Obama want to stand in the way of the voting rights of 2 states? The DNC RULES allow for MG and FL to have a re-vote, or to simply allow the delegates to be seated as they are now...Those are the rules... Why Obama would stand in the way for one second, for any reason, bothers me... Hiding behind his version of "the rules" is a weak defense. Does Obama forget how often, and how recently, certain American citizens were disenfranchised because of "the rules?"
    Obama was on the ballot in FL, there was a record turnout among voters- and he still lost... He chose to take his name off MG's ballot, even though he wasn't required to...So, before people start calling Hillary names, they should take a closer look at the actions and motives of Obama. He is just as much a calculating politician as any of the rest of them............................................

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. king from toronto

    rules are rules" if i break the law i will pay the price.let s move on.this is not the kind of message we want to sent to the next generation.that braking the rules is ok.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. maya

    When in doubt- always err on the side of COUNTING THE VOTES. If Obama's camp think that he is such a strong candidate, then they shouldn't block these efforts. How is it cheating for Hillary to want the VOTERS to be heard? Obama's campaign is in serious trouble....

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. Dolores Sanchez

    Why is the Obama campaign so afraid of a revote? And what kind of a man is Obama? A man who says his African grandmother does not have electricity or running water, while he lives in a 2Million dollar house, and his American grandmother is a racist. The people will wake up and vote for Hillary.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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