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. TD Friedman

    And where is all that private money that James Carville said he already had lined up 2 weeks ago? Seems like it doesn't grow on trees after all...

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. sam

    why is obama and his supporters afraid of a re vote in Michigan? IF as they say, the number of elected delegates each nominee has in the primaries, is important to the decision the Super delegates take in determining their choice of the nominee,why are they blocking Michigan voters having their say. How can it then be democratic? If Cinton and her supporters had said the same, Obama and his wailing fans would have been up in ARMS. Be Fair.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. jeremy

    Give it up Hillary you are done. Stop flip flopping you supported the boycott of MI and FL votes until you were losing the race.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. Republican for Obama

    I started this election season excited at the prospects. The more I read the hateful, racist, sexist, and divisive comments the less I feel. Why is it so hard to agree to disagree and remain respectful of others?

    I blame the media for feeding viewers sound bites and out of context pieces meant to generate anger. An example: I have read over and over people state Michelle Obama is not proud to be an American. If you took the time to read the whole speech and put it in context she was talking about being proud to be an American for the first time in relation to people getting involved in the election process. I am ashamed of the American people most years when citizens of other countries die for the right to vote and we can barely muster 25% of the populace to bother. I would challenge anyway to argue that point, we are complacent and yet when we don't like what our government does we complain.

    I have my opinion of who I will vote for if Obama doesn't win the nomination but I can state my view without being disrespectful of the other candidates, I would challenge everyone here to do the same.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Channell

    Its unfair to the voters but I also think it is unfair to blame the candidates, they did not make the rules but have played by the rules. Please people stop turning against each other because you don't like one of the candidates....its neither of their fault and it should not be up to them to come to a solution, it should be between the DNC and the states in question.

    March 19, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. For Hillary 08

    Again I say, I thought the United States of America was made up of 50 states. People died for the right to vote in this country. I would be angry if I knew that my party and country turned there back on my rights. I guess they don't count in November or would it be ok then cuz the party needs them then. How foolish!

    March 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Let the people vote

    If Florida and Michigan do not get to vote and Obama stands in the way, then he is a divider and a cheater. He wants Hillary's tax returns and pages of her schedule as First Lady but he does not want Florida and Michigan to count. It was wrong to punish those states in that way in the first place. You do not surpress anyones votes – ever. I hope the Superdelegates are taking all this into account when they make their decision.

    March 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Lesley

    Obama is the only person that hasn't said OK to the re-vote plan. As a Constitutional law professor, I expected him to know more about the fundamental right to vote in this Union.

    BTW –> Obama better hope they don't re-vote now, because I'm sure they aren't too happy with him since he's the one person keeping their voice from being heard!

    March 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Nancy in Dallas TX

    Obama is spinning this so fast his head is getting ready to fly off his neck.

    March 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Mike Jones

    Hillary, you signed the agreement last year. Now you want to reneg on it. Split the delegates 50/50 in both Florida and Michigan. Take it or leave it Hillary. Stop trying to move the goalposts after you are losing.

    March 19, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Elder

    Who cares about DNC rules say.
    What about the CONSTITUTION?

    March 19, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Lucy, Maryland

    Hillary understands the rule of the party. Rules are rules. What is the DNC doing about this?

    March 19, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Maggie

    Sen. Obama had the opportunity to include his name on the Michigan ballot. He chose not to in order to "impress" the DNC. Now he is "not sure" if he feels he can agree with the DNC to have a re-vote? Sen. Obama, what right do you have to take the rights of others to vote? If you had the opportunity to include your name on the original ballot?

    You plan backfired Sen. Obama and now you want to penalize the "Americans" in Michigan, by revoking their right to cast their vote? Shame on you.


    March 19, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Lou

    I would actually for the first time believe Senator Clinton had;

    1) She never signed the pledge to not allow the FL & MI delegates to be seated.

    2) Not found it a "bedrock principle" only after falling behind so far that she needs these re-votes to have any chance at the nomination.

    Seems to me that Senator Clinton is the one responsible for dividing the party on this issue even after signing the pledge. I guess she will try to do just about anything to win.

    March 19, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. end of obama

    I agree Hillary will be our President.

    March 19, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Dee

    It is interesting that Hillary AGREED to the rules...not to seat the delegates if they changed the dates...but NOW, she is concerned about voters voices being heard...where was she in the beginning??

    And for those who do not know, ALL of the candidates were suppose to remove their names from the ballots in Michigan, per the DNC...but guess who did not play by the RULES????

    March 19, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. Political Jonze

    If Senator Clinton is so willing to change the rules now because they no longer favor her, how can she stand up to the House and Senate and more importantly Foreign Leaders who no longer want to abide by previously agreed to decisions/treaties because it no longer favorable to them.

    More do as I say not as I do hypocrisy?

    March 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. Jess

    How did she forget this basic right of people to vote the first time around when she agreed with DNC and signed a contract that the MI votes won't count?

    March 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Lesley

    For you all you idiots out there who believe otherwise, the DNC's rules aren't the "law." –> They're merely rules that can be contested based on their Constitutionality.

    Wow, I'm amazed by Obama supporters every day. Michigan broke the "law"??? Seriously?!?! Get an education.

    March 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. j williamson

    Come on Barack – winners don't run from fights. It appears you're trying to dodge another big state loss – it's highly unlikely Dems will win Utah or Wyoming in the fall (places where you won the primaries), but Michigan is a must win and you should try and demostrate that you can win the big ones too.

    March 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. suzanne from Texas

    I think Obama was waiting to smooth over his racial issues before commiting to a re-vote.
    As we speak his peeps are trying to pull his grandmother out from under the bus and could not readily be available for comment on this issue.

    March 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  22. sacto joe

    What is this country coming to? Doesn't anybody have a sense of personal responsibility any more? If the rules state one thing, and you fail to do it, then ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for your actions!

    Any other behaviour is irresponsible.


    March 19, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Orlando

    This is unfortunate for BOTH Florida and Michigan voters but this can be corrected by counting the delegates 50-49 without counting the popular votes. This will solve the problem and focuses on the remaindering states. DNC

    March 19, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. G.moody, Alabama

    No matter how you look at it. These two states broke the rules! They knew before hand what was going to happen. So people can argue all day about something that was known a year will not change the rules from the start.

    Hillary is clearly trying to change the rules. Even if she won both states. She would still be trailing Barack in Delegates. That is just how it is. Get over it and move on!

    March 19, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. T. Renee

    It does not matter. I have made up my mind. If Clinton wins the nomination, I will be voting for John McCain. I can take no more of Hillary! She is absolutely awful and unfair. I just can't do it. I am a democrat, but I can't overlook her dirty politics!! Whatever happens, just know that there are too many of us who have seen the REAL HILLARY CLINTON in the past few months and are COMPLETELY SHOCKED!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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