WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) | Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly gravely ill 85-year-old grandmother, his communications director said.
Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Mr. Obama’s plane that Mr. Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week. But he said her health had deteriorated “to the point where her situation is very serious.”
Events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before Mr. Obama makes the long flight to Hawaii.
On Friday, Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, will stand in for the candidate at rallies in Akron and Columbus, in Ohio, said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Mr. Obama was expected to resume campaigning on Saturday, she said.
“Senator Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has always been one of the most important people in his life, along with his mother and his grandfather,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Recently his grandmother has become ill and in the last few weeks her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.”
Mr. Gibbs would not discuss the nature of Mrs. Dunham’s illness.