Obama Rushes To Ailing Grandmother

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[Election 2008]



Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly ill 85-year-old grandmother, his spokesman said.

Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week. But he said her health had deteriorated "to the point where her situation is very serious."

Obama was expected to resume campaigning on Saturday, though Gibbs was unsure where.

Obama events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before he makes the long flight to Hawaii.

Gibbs said it was still being decided whether surrogates would fill in for Obama. His wife, Michelle, for instance, was not accompanying him to Hawaii.

"Senator Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life, along with his mother and his grandfather," Gibbs said. "Recently his grandmother has become ill and in the last few weeks her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious. It is for that reason that Sen. Obama has decided to change his schedule on Thursday and Friday so that he can see her and spend some time with her."

Citing the family's desire for privacy, Gibbs would not discuss the nature of Dunham's illness. It seemed likely that she was close to death, as Gibbs said that "everyone understands the decision that Sen. Obama is making."

It could be a momentous one for his bid for the White House against Republican John McCain, with Election Day just two weeks away on Nov. 4.



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