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. clinton2008

    im sick to hear Obama Obaaamaaa
    Hilary 2008 if you dont like Hilary or Obama- why dont eliminate both of them and I think the problem will be solved

    March 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Diane

    I totally agree with Ron. Regarding the Obama campaign, he respected the DNC decision and did not campaign. He did not do this to FL or Michigan.

    This is just another manipulation by the Clintons to steal the nomination and claim something they beleive they are entitled to.

    So lesson learned, rules are not made to be broken.

    March 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    Stop trying to make this an Obama vs. Hillary issue. It is true that the Democrats who voted in the Republican primary will not be allowed to vote in the second Democratic primary. This is a legitimate concern for those voters.

    March 19, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Terry

    Obama is a slug. He and Edwards encouraged people to vote uncommitted so now he is attempting to supress voters in Michigan and Florida by not supporting a revote. Obama will not win general election if he ignores Florida and Michigan. McCain will be our next president.

    BTW–It was Obama that had his name removed from the Michigan ballot. There was no requirement that any candidate remove their name from the ballot. Obama didn't remove his name from the Florida ballot. Why don't you ask him why he removed his name from Michigan and left it on in Florida?

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

    Why would you protest to a revote? The numbers are starting to turn- Obama supported a rascist for 20 years- I cannot vote for Obama! We cant have this type of person running our country along with no experience!!

    HILLARY 2008

    March 19, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. Sam, Muncie, Ind.

    Clinton is so full of it! If she was so concerned about voting rights, why didn't she say all these things in October, instead of conceding at that time that the FL and MI primaries would not count?

    Just like a Clinton to try to change the rules when it suits their purpose.

    March 19, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Mark Diplomat

    And what has the "message" of the Obama campaign been all along? That we must take responsibility for our actions, own up to our frailties, and move-on.

    Voters of Michigan and Florida: you were forewarned that the results of this contest would not count, due to the decisions made by your State party to move up the primary dates.

    Now is no time to further fracture the situation. Your State officials must work out a compromise, and not blame either campaign. Seat all delegates at the Convention as an uncommitted bloc, and let the Democratic process run its course.

    The Republicans are salivating over this mess. Move on, discuss issues, and vote your hearts and minds in Denver.

    March 19, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. IL Independent

    Talk of "disenfranchisement" in all of this is just a stupid ploy. These are party primaries. There is no "right to vote" for a private organization, hence no disenfranchisement is possible. If they wanted to, Dean et. al would be perfectly able to simply declare that Joe Blow is the Democratic candidate, and that would be that. Save the "votes should count!!!" rhetoric for a real election. The primaries are an internal matter for the Democratic party. DNC's house, DNC's rules ... Florida and Michigan should have known better.

    March 19, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Shame on you America

    I wonder if Hillary will still believe the people's vote should count, when she's still behind in delegates at the end of the race... She'll be trying to disenfranchise alot of voters when she tries to get the "Superdelegates" to nominate her inspite of what the elected delegates and the popular vote says...

    Save this article and see if her beliefs are the same then... Or will they flip flop like the rest of her beliefs...

    JOKE: Q: How can you tell if Hillary is about to change her mind?

    A: The wind changes direction.

    March 19, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. daily r

    Sorry, Michigan, you broke the rules. No re-vote.

    March 19, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. KR

    CNN, you need to cover the story of the Texas Democratic Party refusing to investigate the more than 2000 incident reports–some verified with videotape–of improprieties by the Obama campaigners in the Texas caucus. If Obama was the different candidate he claims to be, he would want to be elected fairly.

    If Hillary brings in her lawyers you will accuse her of doing anything to win. I wish the double standard would end.

    March 19, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. jeff in Alabama

    Sure sounds like the Obama camp is not in favor of a re-vote. He appears to be saying we want a re-vote but the law will not allow it. This is just more of the same from Obama's campaign. I respect each candidate's desire to win and both are trying to get any advantage possible. But denying an entire state's population a vote is just not acceptable.

    I suspect Obama is fearful of the possible outcome of a Michigan re-vote will be especially now that people know so much more about him than in the previous elections.

    March 19, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. jaylo

    Man I just live this Hillary Clinton. She has more guts and courage than anyone. She just keeps working hard-just as she has her whole life. She stays on task and moves forward. Smart, effective, incredible work ethic. Go get em Hillary!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. T Hooks

    States that didn't follow the rules should not get a revote ! That is UNAMERICAN AND NOT FAIR TO THE STATES THAT FOLLOWED THE RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Oh! The Irony


    No, we could not have written him in. I was told specifically at my polling place that write-ins were not accepted for this primary. Also, many many many people that I know did not vote with the understanding that their candidate, Obama, wasn't listed on the ballot and that our delegates were not being seated.

    March 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. PssttCmere have it exactly right. Obama is already siccing the lawyers on these guys. He is using the same tactics he has used in the past to win just about every election he has won to date. He learned his dirty politics well in Chicago. I am sure Tony Rezko taught him a thing or two. Frankly, he has been found to be a liar, pure and simple. Listening to his rhetoric and watching the swooning of his supporters, reminds me so much of GWB's campaign. It is quite frightening.

    Obama ran ads in FLA when there was to be no campaigning in that state. He broke the rules then, but is hiding behind the "rules are rules" b.s. now. Even with that campaigning, he lost by a significant margin in FLA and that is why he does not want those delegates seated.

    Everyone's vote should count....end of story.

    March 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. Diane

    Hillary is a desperate clawing power hungry woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. One thing she will never get is my vote or respect. Can't she just go away???????

    March 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    Never mind rules! Personal satisfaction goes first!

    Hillary wants her way by constantly changing goal posts! What kind of country and people will we be under her influence?

    Enough of this irrationality and unfairness created by Hillary!

    March 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Roxanne NY

    So let me get this straight. He was cruel to throw his poor grandmother under the bus, someone who loved him dearly and sacrificed for him, but the hateful Wright he spared? And now he is telling us, never mind what the voters in Florida or Michigan think in November, never mind that they may get angry and not support the party, anything, just don't count their votes or block a revote in the primary? This man's "judgement" is becoming scarier by the day!

    Hey, not even his grandmother was spared, you'd think he would spare us, blue-color democrats in preference for this Jeremiah GD-KKK-America Wright?

    Come on people, get your heads out of the clouds!
    We don't know this man and what's coming out now is downright scary!

    I say let the votes be counted and let the people vote, and I said this to my daughter even the night Ohio voted, when I heard that Obama's team had gone to court to keep 15 polling stations open after the close of polls in areas where he thought he might have an advantage. As a good, old fashion liberal, I said to my 12 year old, who, like me, are Hillary supporters, " I have no problem with people getting a chance to vote."

    I am a consistent, blue color liberal. I say let the people's votes be counted or let them get a chance at a revote.

    March 19, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Candi

    If Michigan and Florida is allowed to re-vote, then that is telling the American people that we can screw-up anytime we want and still make things right. I opposed the re-vote because if two grown adults can let someone manipulate them into something then they should adhere to what was been done. I can say that the two leaders didn't do what was important for Michigan and Florida and that was to read the fine print. Verrrrrrrrrrrrry Verrrrrrrrrrry Important.

    March 19, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  21. OneAmerica

    Yet, again many of you DID NOT READ the memo from the Obama campaign!

    According the Obama memo, MI has proposed having a CLOSED primary in June. When in January, the primary was OPEN in January. "...the state will have difficulty justifying this disenfranchisement by reference to any legitimate state interest. Michigan cannot argue that it wants to limit the June primary to those who are genuinely Democrats, because it has always run fully open primaries. Voters...a state conferred right to vote in the Democratic party no matter what their affiliation."

    March 19, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. ALB

    Obama should be true to his talk. One person-one vote.
    HILLARY 08

    March 19, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. Doris

    I do not believe that a "revote" in Michigan should happen. I voted "uncommitted" because the real future President (Barack Obama) was NOT on the original ballot. Therefore, maybe those politicians should clean their acts up before deciding to think for us!

    March 19, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. bora

    I don't know why they're punishing the millions of voters who cast their ballots. They were not the ones who decided to schedule their primaries ahead of schedule. I think their votes should count. For someone who claims to be a uniter instead of a divider, this guy is doing everything he can to silence the voices of millions of voters (just because they overwhelmingly voted for Clinton). Now who's calculating? Now who is doing everything he can to win the nomination?
    I've always voted straingt democratic but this guy surely is not getting my vote. Suddenly, McCain is looking a lot better.

    March 19, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Adam - TX

    Stop trying to disenfranchise voters, Obama camp!! Show some support to the numerous democrats (your constituents!) that voiced their opinion during those primaries!

    You are not uniting the party or bringing about change if you're constatnly trying to negate voters who didn't necessarily support your candidacy during the initial primaries.

    March 19, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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