October 20th, 2008
09:58 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama to leave trail to visit ailing grandmother

Obama is taking Thursday and Friday to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.
Obama is taking Thursday and Friday to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

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.

Obama often speaks on the stump about his grandmother, what an integral figure she was in his youth and how she struggled against the glass ceiling in her career. He and his family traveled to Hawaii in August to visit Dunham.

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said of his grandmother: “She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she’s watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (560 Responses)
  1. Stacy Clarks, TX

    my prayers are with you, your grandmother and you family!

    GOD BLESS

    October 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  2. Armon Dallas, TX

    God's peace be with you and your family in this hard time, Senator Obama!

    October 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  3. Your American Family

    President Obama, We will fight in your stead while you go to your grandmother. You, your family and your grandmother are in our prayers. Your grandmother will see you sworn in as the next president. God bless her for her sacrafices and for raising such a wonderful man and our leader. Little did she know that she would some day give us the greatest president in my lifetime and maybe one of the greatest ever. God knows he will face the biggest challenges ever. I know God will be with you and your grandmother. I can only imagine the love you must share. We've got tour back, but more importantly, God has you protected in His hands. God Bless you.

    October 20, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  4. adods

    May God hold you, your grandmother and your family in the light of God's unfailing love.

    October 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  5. senior vote driver

    As I spend the next two weeks shuttling low-income seniors from their homes in Charlotte to early vote for you Senator, I will constantly be reminded of your grandmother and what special signifcance this election holds for her. Our thoughts are with you, as we wish your grandmother all the strength she needs to recover.

    October 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. Nicole in Ga

    I am keeping them all in prayer. It's really sad he had so many special people in his life not be able to see him become President. What a wonderful family he grew up in with wonderful values. God Bless...Don't worry about your campaign, Biden and your surrogates will handle it well for you in your absence and your voters are very much dedicated...

    October 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. Polly

    Obama,
    I pray that she will hang in there to see you make the next president.
    My prayers are with you and your family.

    October 20, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. ChicagoSuz

    I'll keep a good thought for Sen. Obama & his family during this trying time. I hope his Grandmother is up and around soon and can see her grandson become President of the United States!!

    October 20, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. Ken, Republican Voting for Obama

    Not to worry Mr President, travel safely, wish you all the best. Come back and lets change this country.

    October 20, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  10. CAW in MD

    God speed and God bless to you and yours, Senator Obama. We'll include your grandmother in our prayers.

    October 20, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  11. Moe in VA

    our thoughts and prayers are with your family. I know I would be no where else if I were in the same situation. This is another example of the caliber of Sen. Obama's character. Hope there is a speedy recovery!!!

    October 20, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. Jarvis J. Missouri

    Dear Barack,
    All of my thoughts and prayers are with you during these very difficult times. May God always be with you and your family. Please take care my friend.

    October 20, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Mugsy

    If I take care of you and you take care of me, we both get taken care of.....I'm sure grandma raised you to think that way. Hope all goes well during this tough time

    October 20, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. alpha_nu_916

    in times of heartache and personal tragedy people set their personal beliefs aside and come together; our differences are nothing when compared to our similarities.
    my thoughts and prayers are with sen. obama's family . . . i hope these messages of hope and love find his granmother well.

    October 20, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. Proud supporter for Obama

    Senator Obama my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and may God watch over you and your family as well as your Grandmother was she watches her grandson make history. I hope and pray that she gets well to see you on your path to victroy to lead this country to greatness. My heart goes out to you and your family. May God continue to bless you and your family.

    October 20, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  16. Heidi

    May God bless you and your family Senator Obama. Our prayers are with you!

    October 20, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. Ken

    Barack,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope your grandmother gets to see you inaugerated our next President.

    October 20, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  18. Barack Uda

    May the love from your supporters comfort you at this time. You and your grandma have done each other proud. God bless you and your family, President Obama.

    October 20, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  19. Elizabeth, TX

    Dear Mrs. Madelyn Dunham,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. May you regain the strength to see a nation embrace your grandson. And if it be your time, may you find peace knowing that you have inspired a boy to become a man who stands up for those less fortunate. I thank you.

    October 20, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  20. Tom Jerry

    nancois, did you mean– judge only by words not by actions? Just checking!

    October 20, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  21. Tim in Cheyenne

    I am 12 years old, bi-racial, a christian, and my grandmother means alot to me. I know your grandmother must mean alot to you also, so I pray she will be alright and be able to see you succeed in winning the election!! OBAMA / BIDEN 08!!!!

    October 20, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  22. Democrat from Arizona

    God bless, my heart goes out to Senator Obama, family and friends.

    October 20, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  23. Dawn Tarr

    My best wishes and thoughts are with your family and your Grandmother Mr. Obama!!! Your Grandmother must be a great woman and you are a fine example of her years of hard work and love!! Enjoy your time with her and take care of you and yours!!! We are still here and will be when you are able to return!!!

    October 20, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. democrat in az

    May God bless and keep His arms around your grandmother. Grandmas are special people

    October 20, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  25. Kevin in CPT

    Pre-President Obama. You go home and take care of your family. We supporters will handle things until your return. We got your back.

    October 20, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
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