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. Indiana Joe

    All my prayers are with Sen. Obama and his Grandmother! Blessings!!!

    October 20, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  2. Winnie Vargas

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your grandmother .
    God bless.

    October 20, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  3. John

    All our prayers goes to Senator Obama's grandmother and we hope that she recovers and live to see the historic moments that we are about to witness in the U.S.

    October 20, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. Kathy from MD

    God Bless Toot and watch over her until you get there Sen Obama! She raised a wonderful man and all our prayers our with you and your family!

    October 20, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  5. Greg

    I see Obama is starting to drop in the polls a liitle. Could this be a campaign ploy?

    October 20, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. Evelyn

    I'm sure Mrs. Dunham appreciates her only grandson, with all his campaigning, being at her bedside during her illness. Now that's a sign of character.

    I'm disturbing not just by comments made at McCain-Palin rallies, but those news reports of effigies of her son strung up from a tree branch with a nooce around the neck. And I'm not his grandmother.

    I've heard Barack Obama himself say that he can withstand this and more until Election Day, but I'm so sure about Mrs. Dunham. I hope the next time somebody thinks of doing one of these hateful gestures, they considered the ailing Kansan octogenarians watching on CNN.

    October 20, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  7. Corey, Maryland

    I hope his grandmother is able to see it through until at least November 4th to see her grandson become president!!! Hope she lasts a lot longer after that as well. Best wishes to the Obama family in this time.

    Obama Biden 2008

    October 20, 2008 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. Syblops

    Let us all just hope that she can pull through another 15 more days. Not too many people can say that they raised the president of the U.S.

    October 20, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  9. john from seaside, ca

    My prayers are with you and all of your family and loved ones Sen. Obama, and may god ease the suffering.

    October 20, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. Andrew

    god bless you for choosing to be at the side of you grandmother during your busy campaign

    October 20, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  11. Mayra from Denver, CO.

    My prayers are with you and your family, Senator Obama.
    I hope that your grandmother gets better soon!

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    October 20, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. former gop

    I pray Obama's grandmother lives to see her grandson become the next President of the United States.

    Hold on, little lady, only a couple weeks to go!

    October 20, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  13. G-Man

    My whole family a having a special prayer tonight for the Obamas.

    October 20, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  14. Ella, TN

    May the Love of God and peace from the Father rest, rule and abide forever. May the prayers of all whose spirits you have touch carry across the miles that you may know we are there with you in Spirit. Blessings, peace and comfort.

    October 20, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  15. Bayside, Annap Maryland

    Our Prayers and Thoughts are with you and your family Senator Obama.

    October 20, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  16. Betty, Virginia

    My thoughts and prayers will be Senator Obama's family. You do what you need to do - we'll hit the pavement for you!

    October 20, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  17. Chuk

    May the blessing and mercy of God be with her. And may his shield protect you from any attempts to repeat tragedy in american poltics.

    October 20, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  18. Lisa Kudrow

    I am praying for you and your entire family.

    October 20, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. Adele from Philadelphia

    Godspeed Mr. Obama

    October 20, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  20. Alga

    I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    October 20, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  21. G

    I hope she makes it to see him become president if he is that lucky. God Bless your grandmother!

    October 20, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  22. Jeremy Taylor

    My thoughts are with you Mr. Obama as you take time to see your grandma, I have allready voted and am encouraging my friends to cast thier votes for you. I look forward to a brighter tomorrow under your leadership. Sincerely J Taylor

    October 20, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  23. Jen

    Senator Obama

    Tell your Grandma thank you from all of us, that she has raised such an exemplary young man, who not only will unite America but make all of us from other parts of the world strive to be better people. We pray senator that she lives to see the day that unfortunately her daughter never got to see, her son becoming the Nelson Mandela of USA. Godspeed and come back safe.

    October 20, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  24. judyc

    Safe trip. This is the right thing to do–and don't let anyone tell you any different.

    October 20, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  25. Joi

    President to be Obama,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. May God send his choicest Angels to watch over your Grandma.

    October 20, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
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