WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) – Senator Barack Obama will leave the campaign trail Thursday afternoon and travel to Hawaii to visit his grandmother, who is seriously ill.
Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor to Obama, told reporters on the flight from Orlando that 85 year-old Madelyn Dunham’s health “has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.” Gibbs would not elaborate on the severity of Dunham’s condition, but said the fact that Obama was traveling to see her “underscores the seriousness of the situation.”
Dunham was released from the hospital late last week.
Obama had been scheduled to appear in Wisconsin and Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday. Those events have been canceled. Instead, Obama will do a morning event in Indianapolis, Indiana and then head to Hawaii. He will return to the trail on Saturday with a campaign event in a western state.
His campaign will continue to function normally and in no way is being suspended.
(CNN) - The McCain campaign is looking at an Electoral College strategy heading into the final two weeks that has virtually no room for error and depends heavily on a dramatic comeback in Pennsylvania, which hasn't backed a Republican for president in 20 years.
While Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado are still officially listed as McCain target states, two top strategists and advisers tell CNN that the situation in those states looks increasingly bleak. Iowa and New Mexico always have been viewed as difficult races, but the similar assessment of Colorado reflects a dramatic shift for a campaign that had long counted on the state.
"Gone," was the word one top McCain insider used to describe those three states.
This source said while the polls in Colorado remain close, he and most others in the operation were of the opinion that the Obama campaign and its allies have a far superior ground/turnout operation and "most of us have a hard time counting on Colorado."
Campaign manager Rick Davis is among the dissenters, believing the state remains within reach, several sources in and close to the McCain campaign say.
Election Center: Check out the latest state polls
The McCain strategy depends on holding a handful of Bush '04 states that are now rated tossups by CNN: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Nevada. It also depends on keeping Virginia, which CNN now considers leaning Democratic, in the GOP column.
But even if McCain won all six of those states, in addition to those in which he is already favored, he would still be shy of the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.
(CNN) - Terry Mahoney, wife of Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney, has filed for divorce following revelation of her husband's affairs, her attorney told CNN.
Attorney Karen Steger said Mrs. Mahoney filed on the grounds that the marraige is "irretriveably broken." She is asking for the couple's Palm Beach, Florida, home and its contents, a lump sum payment, alimony and attorneys' fees.
Mahoney admited to "multiple affairs" last week after an ABC report alleged that he paid a former aide $121,000 to avoid a a sexual harassment lawsuit. ABC also reported that he had an affair with a local county official who had official business with his office.
In interviews Friday, Mahoney admitted to both affairs and others, but maintains he broke no laws.
On October 13, after the report first surfaced, Mahoney said he was requesting that the House ethics committee review the allegations. "I am confident that when the facts are presented that I will be vindicated," he said in a written statement.
BELTON, Missouri (CNN) - John McCain is seizing on Joe Biden’s prediction that his running mate would be tested in office.
"He guaranteed that if Senator Obama is elected, Senator Biden said, we will have an international crisis to test America's new president,” McCain said at a Monday rally in Belton, Missouri Monday. “We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.”
At a Sunday night fundraiser, Biden said that within Obama’s first months in office, “we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy" - and that it may not be immediately “apparent” that an Obama administration’s actions were the right ones.
“Forget ‘apparent,’” said McCain Monday. “Senator Obama won't have the right response, and we know that because we've seen the wrong response from him over and over during this campaign.
A new poll shows a growing number of voters believe McCain is attacking unfairly. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - A growing number of Americans believe John McCain has attacked Barack Obama unfairly, a negative perception of the Arizona senator that could cost him at the polls come Election Day.
According to a new survey from CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the Republican nominee has unfairly gone negative in his bid for the White House. That percentage is significantly higher than it was last September, when just 42 percent thought the Republican Presidential nominee was running an overly negative campaign, and is also considerably higher than the percentage of Americans who feel Obama has gone unfairly negative.
In recent weeks, both campaigns have stepped up spending on negative television ads and launched attacks at each other's record. But comments from both McCain and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin questioning Obama's relationship with former 1960's radical William Ayers have drawn particular scrutiny, as has the GOP ticket's recent suggestion Obama will seek to carry out 'socialist' policies.
Obama's image may also be benefiting from his huge financial advantage, which has led to a massive imbalance in the number of ads he is able to air compared to McCain. Campaign Media Analysis Group's Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on ad spending, says Obama has the luxury of running both positive and negative ads — simultaneously softening his own image and hurting McCain’s.
"McCain can't afford the positive ads Obama can," Tracey said. "It's not likely McCain can raise his own positives with only a couple weeks left - but he can hope to raise Obama's negatives."
But the clear perception that the Arizona senator has run a more negative campaign than Obama just may hurt the Republican presidential nominee's chances of a comeback in this long race's dwindling days.
"In previous elections, both candidates have been viewed as attacking the other unfairly, so the penalty for doing so has tended to cancel out in past years," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "But this year McCain faces that problem all by himself, so any blowback affects only him while Obama seems above the fray."
The Statement: Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, speaking at a rally in St. Charles, Missouri, on Monday, October 20, said "Joe the Plumber," an Ohioan who has become a central figure on the campaign trail, "didn't ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign."
Get the facts!
(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis suggested in an interview that the campaign may be "rethinking" its decision not to use Barack Obama’s relationship with his former pastor Jeremiah Wright in the campaign.
McCain himself has not responded to questions about why he might be reluctant to cite Wright. During the primary season, Hillary Clinton had predicted that Republicans would use the controversial minister to attack Obama, if he were to become the Democratic nominee.
Now – in a new interview being circulated by the McCain camp – Davis is pointing to recent comments by Obama supporter John Lewis as a reason some in the campaign are weighing a shift in that policy.
Lewis had compared the atmosphere at some McCain-Palin rallies to coded racial appeals by late segregationist George Wallace during his own presidential run.
“Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign,” Davis told conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt.
(CNN) - Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer called Monday for a government investigation into whether the White House is working with John McCain’s campaign to raise allegations of voter fraud, telling reporters attorney general Michael Mukasey needed to step in to ensure investigators are "not misused for partisan purposes."
A special prosecutor is investigating similar charges against the Justice Department over the controversial dismissals of several U.S. attorneys, including David Yglesias, who said he was fired for resisting pressure to prosecute ACORN, the embattled community group at the center of a sustained Republican campaign alleging voter fraud among supporters of Barack Obama.
Bauer spoke with reporters on a Monday conference call days after news broke that the FBI is taking a closer look at ACORN. Last week, he said the special prosecutor’s mandate should be expanded to include the rising government scrutiny of the community group.
Listen: Obama lawyer calls for an internal DOJ investigation
On Monday, he sent a letter to Mukasey saying said that the inspector general needed to investigate, because the prosecutor didn’t have the jurisdiction needed to look into the department’s activities - whether it complied with its own policies.
ACORN has said it registered roughly 1.3 million voters this year, but has come under fire because some of the registrations turned in by contract workers hired by the group have contained false information.
(CNN) - Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh Monday strongly defended his recent remark that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama largely because of race, and lashed out at members of the media and Democrats for appearing to take issue with his comment.
"So what if it's race?" Limbaugh said on his radio show. "Why is it so hard to admit that it's race...What's so problematic about admitting it?"
Limbaugh's original comments came in an email to Politico reporter Jonathan Martin Sunday, when the talk-radio host took issue with Powell's contention that his endorsement of the Illinois senator did not have anything to do with the color of his skin.
"Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race," Limbaugh wrote in the e-mail. "OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with."
The comments immediately caused a stir on several Democratic blogs and an Obama campaign spokeswoman called them "disgusting." They were also heavily reported on several news programs Sunday night and Monday morning. But Limbaugh made clear Monday he is not backing down from them.
"I thought it should be about race," he said. "I thought you liberals thought this was a historic candidacy because finally we are going to elect a black guy...why hide behind this, why act like it's not about race?"
"This was all about Powell and race, nothing about the nation and its welfare," Limbaugh added. The talk radio host also criticized members of the media for not addressing his claim that Powell likely hasn't endorsed white candidates who, according to Limbaugh, have similar political leanings and experience as Obama.
(CNN)– A talking moose is the latest star of an anti-McCain-Palin ad put out by MoveOn.org Monday, taking aim at the Alaska governor’s experience and record.
“You really gotta question John McCain’s judgment pickin’ Sarah Palin as his VP,” the moose, which is mounted on a wall says.
“We know her up here. She doesn't have any national security experience,” the moose says. “She can't even explain Bush's war policy. But she supports his war. And now she's an expert because she can see Russia?”
The 30-second spot, “Moose,” will literally follow Gov. Palin across the country as she campaigns for these final weeks.
According to MoveOn.org, the ad will air in towns and cities one day in advance of Palin’s scheduled appearances in those areas, beginning Monday in Las Vegas ahead of her Tuesday campaign stop.