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. pennythoughts

    What happened to Obama's commitment to seat the delegates as he stated in September. I guess he only meant if he won those states.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Chris

    I cannot wait for Obama to return to Chicago, will someone please get him out of my sight. He is a political activist and does not deserve to be President. I do not care what he has to say in a speech or a memo.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. 18YearsRule

    Forget one more point: His attitude towards MI revote also shows he is POLITICIAN AS USUSAL.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Obama the other white meat

    Lots of Obama supporters I know that voted in other primaries and caucuses would love to re-vote for HIllary now. Obama truthes are starting to come out and people feel used.

    Especially the latest lie about Obama saying he did not know anything about his pastor's comments then in his pretty well-written speech he admits he knew all of it. Then he only admitted this because church members came out and said they saw him at church when those statements were made. The guy isn't even president yet and he is already lieing to the American public. What happens after he is president.

    Like I said I know many Obama supporters that want their votes back.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Del

    hillary better re- think what she is doing. she just squeeked by running against NO ONE. Americans are not really as stupid as she thinks or wants them to be.Michigan voters are better informed now. There aren't as many uneducated and illegals there as she thinks. They seem to be her only supporters, any others are bought ,bribed or blackmailed.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Jim

    There should be no re-vote in either Michigan or Florida. They broke the rules in order to try to gain more importance in the process. A re-vote will make them even more important than their original vote. Thus the punishment would actually benefit them and encourage more states to do the same next time.

    March 19, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. JM, OH

    I agree with the Obama camp. Many Democrats chose to vote in the Republican primary because they were led to believe their votes would not count in the Democratic primary. A revote would not be fair to these voters. While it would ensure that every Democrat gets a chance to vote, the results of a do-over would probably not be an accurate representation of the will of the voters.

    Because Hillary's name was on ballot and Obama's was not, Obama supporters most likely voted in the Republican primary, while Hillary supporters probably voted for Hillary. If a re-do was allowed, the Hillary supporters would get a chance to vote for Hillary, but the Obama supporters would be out of luck. This is why Clinton would like a re-vote.

    The most fair solution would be to split the delegates 50/50. Either way, the Michigan Democratic leadership really screwed up this one.

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. A in GA

    Don't blame Obama, blame your elected officials that voted (knowing what the consequences would be) to move up your state's primary!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Eleanor

    these two states can blame their state government for this mess!!
    these two govenors broke the rules !!!!
    the only reason the Hillary camp wants them now is because she is behind in delegates. If this situation were in reverse you can bet she would not be fighting for anyones rights and at this point in the race
    the only fair thing is to divide the delegates equally but of course
    the Clintons want to win this nomination at any cost even if its underhanded so I doubt dividing them equally will be done!

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Vidal of Memphis, TN

    Thank you Ron!!!

    Well said... I couldn't have said it better myself!

    Fair is Fair!

    PEACE/LOVE '08

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. Dave

    Will you Hillary supporters stop whining and grow up. Your state party made a stupid error and you are suffering for it. Blame your party not Obama. There were more delegates at the time than Hillary and Obama only Hillary showed, broke party guigelines to suck up to Michigan voters. None of the other candidates broke party rules.

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. silverspring

    Why does Hillary keep further complicating situation? the Republican slips the delegates in haft when a state violates the rules. Michigan and Florida violated the rules. But she keeps saying that she won. You can win if you are the only one who competes. She divides the party so much that drives a lot of independent and moderate republicans away. If the Democrat does not win this election, Hillary and Bill are to blame.

    March 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Obama IS SCARY!

    MR. Obama is just a scary and fake Christian who does not love his country! Who makes friends with Rezko, Wright.

    Sorrie. Obama, please go back to your cult to cry!

    March 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. HuskerWife

    Yes, Sen Clinton is making a bigger deal about this now that she is down in delegates. But if Sen Obama really believes that the nation is behind him at this point, then what is the big deal?
    Let Florida stand, give them half the delegates, just the Republican's did, then re-vote in Michigan with both names on the ballot.
    I think it is dangerous for Obama to fight against the voice of these voters. I really think that the voters will remember in November who fought against their state being represented at convention. As Al Gore found out the hard way, Florida really can make a difference in the General Election results.

    March 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. ndlily

    Here's the problem. You can't go back and do a redo. All those democrats and independents who voted in the Republican primary who would have voted in the Democratic primary won't have their votes counted. They played by the rules, but now they are supposed to suffer for it. Obama played by the rules, but now he's supposed to suffer for it. Clinton didn't play by the rules, and don't kid yourself–if she were ahead in delegate count, this wouldn't be a problem for her. She manipulated the system, and she is supposed to be rewarded. This is the kind of person we want running the country? Give me a break–a spoiled little toddler who starts playing parent against parent if she can't get her way. And if you all would read all the news, not just the parts that suit you, Obama does want a solution, but he wants it to be a legislative one, as seems to be the only way out of this mess.

    March 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Jean, Indiana

    Where are your SOLUTIONS, Hillary?

    The Obama campaign's memo was just words. Words that simply point out the legal and other ramifications the Michigan quagmire is likely to run into. Obama is not trying to stop Michigan from voting. He has already stated he will agree to whatever the DNC decides.

    Hillary's campaign should be looking for SOLUTIONS, also. She will be the first one to bring legal recourse (like she did with the Nevada polling sites) if it isn't going her way.

    March 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. Matt

    Hide and Watch while the Clintons steal this election from Obama.

    It's what they do.

    Vote for integrity and Sincerity.

    McCain '08

    March 19, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Melvin Banks, Royal Oak, Michigan

    Any re-vote Obama would win, By mail, phone, fax, or any other way. Obama will be the next president. Man, this guy is smart. Watching his speech about race made me proud, Finally we could have someone willing to bring the country together. Obama would restore world respect in America. Let's all get behind the best candidate OBAMA 08

    March 19, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. CL

    Where was Clinton in Nov – Dec. She did not have a problem with disenfranchising MI and FL voters then. I guess she only cares about what is in it for her. Give up Hillary, YOU LOST!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Scott

    Anybody who's made about "their vote not counting" should contact their lawmakers in Michigan. Or better yet, instead of whining, put your money where your mouth is and vote them out of office.

    This is the height of hypocrisy for Hillary, even for her. She kept her name on the ballot because she said on NPR "we all know the vote doesn't count anyway." She also signed a pledge. Is this what we're to expect from a President?

    March 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Emmanuel Winner

    The Clintons – as usual – are really reaching here; Obama's main concern is the legality of the issue and whether the re-do can take place as inclusively as possible. The Clintons really want to find someway to blackmail the DNC into seating the delegates as-is (like they're currently trying to do with Florida).

    March 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. So much Hate

    If he was to lose by the numbers listed in the first vote...Hillary would only get about 15 more delegates. She is too far why are we even wasting the tax payers money...Even in Florida She would only get 40 more delegates....lets stop this nonsense.

    We will miss you Hillary. We will truley miss you!!

    March 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. Kimberly

    Send Lawyers, Guns & Money. Go Hillary!

    March 19, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Ryan


    They knew the rules and continued on, tossing people's best interest aside.

    Rules are rules. Clinton blaming Obama for playing by the rules is DIRTY POLITICS.

    Doesn't matter anyway, she's MATHEMATICALLY eliminated and can't catch up...period. She could win Michigan 80-20 and that would still be the case. Give up, unite the party and lets beat McCain.

    March 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. John, California

    Obama will do whatever it takes to win an election – even disenfranchise voters in important states such as Michigan and Florida. What happened to "yes we can"? Instead, his campaign is shouting "no we can't" to a revote. Double speak coming from an empty suit.

    March 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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