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. bellgirl

    My famly is praying for Sen. Obama's grandmother's improved health and hope she will live to see her grandson elected President of the United States. I know she knows that all of her past sacrifies were not in vein - she has helped to raise a great person who has and will be a benefit to society.

    We also pray for strength for his family and all of his supporters around the world.

    October 20, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. Ben

    You know it just keeps getting better and better. Obama keeps showing and acting on family values.

    First he takes a vacation to be with his family, then, he visits his ailing Gram.

    Palin on the other hand has a pregnant daughter and a future son in law forced into marriage by the political circumstances. So much for family values.

    October 20, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. LaVerne E Brison

    May Gods mercy be with you and your family Se. Obama. We are all praying for you. We will jold down the Fort while you are gone.

    October 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  4. Mary

    Prayers to Senator Obama and his family during this difficult time.

    October 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. Arkansas voter for Obama

    I firmly believe that you can tell the measure of a man by how he treats his mother/grandmother. I wish Obama a safe trip.

    October 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. hurriCAIN PALIN

    hope your grandma gets better

    Mccain/Palin '08

    October 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. Tim in Canada

    May God bless and keep Senator Obama, he has taken allot of blows and they still keep coming.

    October 20, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Silvestre

    Your grandmother is in our thoughts, Senator Obama.

    October 20, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. tisha

    My prayers are with Barrack and his family at this time. I know his grandmother is so proud of him.

    October 20, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. Trina

    David Gergen said this would give an advantage to McCain's campaign for two days. Unbelievable. I'll be glad when this campaign is in the history books.

    October 20, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  11. Tracy-Oakley

    My prayers go out to your Obama's grandma and their family..

    October 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. AirDiva in NC for OBAMA

    My prayers and thoughts are with you, your grandmother and your family. May God see her well.

    October 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  13. Caring

    My prayers are with Obama and his grandmother.

    October 20, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  14. Turnabout is fair play

    My prayers to you and your grandmother Barack. I hope and pray she lives to see you become the next president of the United States of America before she goes home to our Father. God bless you and your family.

    October 20, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  15. Wis. woman for Obama

    I wish her the best of health, to see her grandson make history.

    October 20, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  16. bruffys

    Our thoughts are with you and your family, Senator Obama, and we hope that your grandmother regains her health.

    October 20, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  17. Colorado

    It will be disgusting to watch the McCain campaign keep attacking Obama while he visits his sick grandmother. I pray she lives to see her grandson become President. I'm sure this is devastating to him

    October 20, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  18. stef

    Good Bless Senator Obama and his grandmother at this critical time. I hope John McCain would respect Senator Obama at this time, but I seriously doubt it, he is desperate to no end.

    October 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  19. Tino

    I admire Obama for his ability to seperate politics from personal responsibilities. Here again we see a clear example of an individual who is grounded and considers his grandmother as his inspiration so much so that he his willing to risk loosing two days of campaigning to be at her side. We should all be humbled by such family values.

    October 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. Independent

    Our best wishes ! I will be phone banking ... maybe with a few other thousand Americans. That may pick up some slack. We'll hold the fort!

    October 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  21. Wendy in NC

    Most positive thoughts and best wishes to 'Toot' Dunham, the woman Sen. Obama said 'put everything she had into me'. Job well done, Mrs. Dunham. I pray she lives to see her grandson elected as president.

    October 20, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. albert griffith

    May God be wit u and your family Sen.Obama the next president of the U.S.A.!

    October 20, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  23. VA Woman for Obama!!!

    My deepest and heartfelt sympathies and prayers are with Senator Obama and his family.

    October 20, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  24. theogracias

    God bless you and your family Senator Obama.

    October 20, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  25. voter

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Obama family and his grandmother. I hope Toot gets well soon so she can see her grandson win the presidency. this says alot about Obama's character in which he puts family first and not his campaign.

    October 20, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
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