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. Tyran

    As a person living in Michigan, I do not think there should be a revote. We knew the rules and violated the rules. I think that Hillary's decision to have the delegates seated has to do wtih the fact that she is behind. If she were ahead, she would not call for them to be seated. How do we know? Well, consider the fact that she did not ojbect to Michigan and Florida being penalized by the DNC in the beginning of the race. Only after getting behind, has she complained that they would be disenfranchised. I am not buying it.

    March 19, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. William O in Michigan

    I live in Michigan and feel the first election was flawed... and a second election will also have its own unique set of flaws.

    Barrack was not on the original ballot and didn't do any campaigning here, and, therefore, the first result can not be counted in any way, shape, or form that is fair to all Democratic voters in Michigan. A second vote would give a better result but not a perfect result. Republicans might want to skew the results toward Hillary because they believe McCain will crush her in the general. Or vice versa...

    March 19, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Adam FL

    I absolutely agree that the votes of Michigan and Florida need to be counted, especially if they expect our support in a general election. It is hard to support someone who wouldnt support hearing me.

    Hillary Clinton 2008!!!

    March 19, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Callion, Atlanta

    Oh course Hillary Clinton wants a re-vote in MI. She needs all the help she can get. Just remember Clinton supporters: every vote Clinton gets puts John McCain one step closer to the oval office. Clinton CANNOT defeat him. So what do you want? Clinton as your nominee or a Democrat in the White House? Because that is the choice you're faced with; you can win a battle that gaurantees you'll lose the war.

    March 19, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. ALB

    By the way, the democratic National Committee just aprovede the plan for a re-vote in Michigan saying that it conforms perfectly to the rules..
    Go HILLARY!!

    March 19, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Zina

    EVERYONE! Please read the article. In the past, Obama has made it clear that he wants to ensure the voices of the people are heard. BUT, why should he go along with a re-vote that has stipulations on voters with no clear financing. That can create more problems than we already have. If we are going to do this, do it RIGHT.

    Obama '08

    March 19, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Vdr Esq., District of Columbia

    So he's reserving the right to sue if he doesn't like the results (as opposed to contesting the rules now with an injunction)? Does he want to give Michigan voters a chance to be heard or what?

    March 19, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. d

    Obama what are you afraid of? You lied to the people of the USA that you had not heard Wrights hatefulness. Then yesterday you said i heard those speeches. You do not qualify to be the next President of the US.... let the people of the U.S. decide. They deserve their vote !

    March 19, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. ehem

    Indeed, now it is Obama who will do anything to win.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. deb

    Go Hillary.

    Obama does not want the re-vote because he will loose. Maybe then he will be able to go to church other than when he is campaigning.

    My Chicago sources tell me there are other pre-election sermons mentioning Obama. Rev. Wright commented on Obama's presence to the entire congregation. CNN staff might want to check the two Sundays before Obama's congressional and senate elections. Also, Rev. Wright was present when Obama announced to the public he was running for Congress and the Senate.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. James

    A lot of you do not have your facts straight. They all ONLY agreed not to campaign in those states. No agreement was made on not counting the votes with the candidates.

    Both names were on the FL ballot and Obama had ads running there due to national ads that were running.

    In MI all that were not on the ballot pleaded with voters to vote uncommitted. Sound like campaigning to me.

    The real legal question is does the DNC have the right to tell any state when they can or can not vote.

    Also remember it was the state legislatures that did this to the voters not the voters themselves. Why should the voters be penalized for what their elected idiots did? The votes should stand as is and give Obama a big % of the uncommitted voted in MI. Truly the only fair way. Possibly let any one who did not vote do so by mail and add to the 1/08 tally.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. DC

    The primaries are about giving voters their say, not devising and enforcing silly schoolyard rules. If we do not find a way to give a voice to the voters of Michigan and Florida then we have no one but ourselves to blame when those states vote republican in November. Of course, Obama only cares about himself and would rather lose in November than lose now.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Grace York

    Wait a minute! I'm a Michigan Democrat who voted in the Republican primary because I wanted my vote to count. A number of my friends did the same thing because we couldn't trust the "uncommitted" to vote for our choice. Since I'm having a tough time choosing between Clinton and Obama, I'm willing to give up my June 3rd re-vote.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Craig T

    There should be no do-overs. Florida and Michigan knew the rules up front and yet they ignored them. They must deal with the consequences.

    You bunch of screw-ups.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. Truth Seeker

    Obama should stop whining about lost votes because his supporters foolishly voted to republicans. I have an issue with him expecting people to excuse his poor judgement with regards to his paster, but he doesn't want us to excuse Clinton's poor judgement with believing in Intelligence and voting for a war. He also wants us to excuse the people who took bad loans and offer our money as relief.

    March 19, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    The two states have already voted. Just seat the delegates like they are suppose to do and let the cards fall where they may.

    March 19, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Illinois 2

    Sen. Obama chose to remove his name from the Michigan primary, Sen. Clinton chose to leave her name on this ballot. Sounds to me that Obama did not use very good judgement and is now afraid that just maybe the DNC will count the previous primary votes, as they should and allow the delegates of Michigan and Florida to be seated.
    Remember, the republican national convention is allowing those delegates of theirs to be seated.....

    March 19, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. GOBAMA

    It's really sad to see how the Clinton supporters don't understand this memo. It's not that the Obama camp does not want a revote, it's the rushed revote that they're against.

    People, you're all intelligent, please read carefully before making a statement. Think about what you're saying before you say it. Read the entire article and memo and not just want you want to see or hear.

    My vote goes to Senator Obama

    March 19, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. yoshi927

    Well, it's the truth. Obama supporters had no reason to go into that Democratic race, so some invariably would've voted in the Republican one instead. This system where those who voted in the Republican primary can't vote in the Democrat is biased toward Clinton.

    March 19, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. vic nashville,Tn

    For sale Michigan and Florida
    Contact DNC chairmen

    March 19, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Rick

    If Obama comes as the nominee without counting FL and MI, he will never get them to vote in the main election and hence a loss for the Democratic Party.

    Super delegate - open your eyes and support Hillary.

    OBama – You are nothing but another power monger.

    March 19, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. gb

    hello michigan and florida shouldnt get a revote. they chose not to get seated... if hillary were winning she would probabaly do the smae. and before she was saying she wou,dnt campgin for michigan or florida. she is such a hypocrite.. shes only doing this because she knows wihtout them she cant win,. HILLARY IS A FAKE

    March 19, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. John

    As a Michigan resident who voted for McCain rather than vote in a pointless primary, it would be ABHORRENT for them not to allow me to vote in a new primary.

    March 19, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. kathy

    impede their right to vote?? didn't they already vote?

    March 19, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. Donald, KS

    Obama can hide behind the legal cover but everyone knows the truth. He doesn't stand a chance to win Michigan and thats why he is running!!

    March 19, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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