Obama and Romney Line Up Lawyers for Close Race

Just in Case, Robert Bauer and Benjamin Ginsberg Are Ready

Ready To Roll Ex-White House counsel Robert Bauer is ready to lead Democratic legal efforts around the presidential election. Benjamin Ginsberg will do the same for the GOP.
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Ready To Roll Ex-White House counsel Robert Bauer is ready to lead Democratic legal efforts around the presidential election. Benjamin Ginsberg will do the same for the GOP.

By Reuters

Published October 27, 2012.
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The close finish to the 2012 race comes after a campaign season dominated by legal wrangling, including fights over laws that require voters to produce photo identification and change early-voting periods. Democrats have succeeded in getting many of the voting restrictions tossed aside.

LESSONS FROM 2000

Ginsberg and Bauer were both schooled in the acrimonious legal battle 12 years ago in Florida over votes cast for Bush and Democrat Al Gore, then the vice president.

The Florida dispute ended a month after the 2000 election, when the U.S. Supreme Court halted a recount and Bush was declared the winner in the state by 537 votes, out of about 6 million cast.

For campaigns, it offered some key lessons. First and foremost: Because most election disputes are guided at least initially by state law, it’s crucial to lock up top law firms and attorneys in the state where a dispute occurs.

“We really weren’t ready for the level of dispute in 2000,” said Democratic strategist Tad Devine, a veteran of the Gore campaign, who has worked with Bauer. “We had a lawyer in every state, but we hadn’t gone out and found the best lawyers in the country to represent our cause.”

Veterans of the Bush campaign recall Ginsberg’s steadiness in the hours after election night in 2000, when the lawyer arrived in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city.

“There was no panic in his face,” Allbaugh recalled. “There was no panic in his voice.”

‘MOST POWERFUL, LEAST FAMOUS’

In 2004, Ginsberg came under criticism from Democrats for his double duty as general counsel to Bush’s campaign and adviser to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an independent group that aired commercials criticizing the military record of Democratic nominee John Kerry.

Ginsberg resigned from the campaign.

Today he is a partner in the Washington law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs, where The New Republic last year ranked him among “Washington’s Most Powerful, Least Famous People.”


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