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Obama Stepping Off Campaign Trail For Grandmother

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 21, 2008 2:30PM

2008_10_21_obama.jpgIllinois Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is excusing himself from campaign appearances over the next two days to head to Hawaii to visit his gravely ill 86-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. Obama will still make scheduled appearances in Florida at the beginning of this week, but will bypass appearances in Iowa and Ohio at the end of the week to return to Hawaii on Thursday. Wife Michelle will appear in his place at rallies in Ohio on Friday; the Senator will return to the trail on Saturday out West.

Obama has previously stated how much he regretted not being able to be at his mother's side when she passed and Obama has often mentioned, particularly in his memoir Dreams From My Father, how Dunham was, at times, a surrogate mother for him. The Trib ran an extensive profile on Dunham in this 2007 piece and Obama himself mentioned her in his high-profile speech on race in March of this year in response to issues surrounding his connections to controversial Chicago preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

This is the second time this election cycle that a candidate has left the campaign trail; in late September, Sen. McCain temporarily suspended his campaign to focus on the then-impending economic crisis.

Image of Obama with his grandparents courtesy of the Obama campaign, via the Trib