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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Madelyn Dunham, who watched from afar as her only grandson rapidly ascended the ranks of American politics to the brink of the presidency, did not live to see whether he was elected.
Mrs. Dunham, 86, Senator Barack Obama’s grandmother, died late Sunday in Hawaii after battling cancer, which Mr. Obama announced upon arriving here on Monday for a campaign stop on the eve of Election Day.
“She has gone home,” said Mr. Obama, his voice tinged with emotion as he briefly spoke of her death at a campaign rally here. “She died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side, so there’s great joy instead of tears.”
Mr. Obama learned of his grandmother’s death at 8 a.m. on Monday, aides said, but appeared at a morning rally in Florida without making an announcement. A written statement was issued around 4:30 p.m., in the name of Mr. Obama and his sister, before he spoke at an evening rally in Charlotte. The delay was intended to allow his sister, who was six hours behind in Hawaii, time to take care of a few details before the death became public.
Mrs. Dunham was the final remaining immediate family member who helped raise Mr. Obama during his teenage years in Hawaii. He called her Toot, his shorthand for “tutu,” a Hawaiian term for grandparent.
Mr. Obama left the campaign trail late last month to travel to Honolulu to bid his grandmother farewell. He spent part of two days with her, as she lay gravely ill in the small apartment where he lived from age 10 to 18.
While Mrs. Dunham was too sick to travel to see her grandson on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama and other family members said that she closely followed his bid for the presidency through cable television. Yet she became a figure in his campaign, seen through images in television commercials intended to give him a biographical anchor.
Mrs. Dunham, who grew up near Augusta, Kan., moved with her husband, Stanley Dunham, to Hawaii.
In the early stages of his candidacy, Mr. Obama spoke wistfully about his grandparents, whose all-American biography was suddenly critical to establishing his own American story. He spoke of how his grandmother worked on B-29s at a Boeing plant in Wichita.
For Mr. Obama, the loss came on the final full day of his presidential campaign against Senator John McCain. Campaigning in New Mexico, Mr. McCain offered his condolences and said: “He is in our thoughts and prayers. We mourn his loss, and we are with him and his family today.”
The illness of Mr. Obama’s grandmother had been weighing on him in recent weeks, friends said, which is why he insisted on interrupting his schedule to visit her late last month. While she was gravely ill, aides said, he carried on a limited conversation with her. He kept the visit to one day, advisers said, partly out of her own insistence that people not create a fuss.
“She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re not famous. Their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard.
“They aren’t seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. In this crowd there are a lot of quiet heroes like that.”
Play the McCain Lobbyist game ~ simply click on the icons to see how they are connected ~ above is Oh Ricky’s Lobbyist connexions. Below is McCain’s Corporate Lobbyist connexions
It’s how he plans to ‘work for you!’
John McCain’s campaign manager says he is reconsidering using Barack Obama’s relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue during the election’s closing weeks.
In an appearance on conservative Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Davis said that circumstances had changed since John McCain initially and unilaterally took Obama’s former pastor off the table. The Arizona Republican, Davis argued, had been jilted by the remarks of Rep. John Lewis, who compared recent GOP crowds to segregationist George Wallace’s rallies. And, as such, the campaign was going to “rethink” what was in and out of political bounds.
“Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign,” he said late last week. “Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we’re all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you’ve got to rethink all these things. And so I think we’re in the process of looking at how we’re going to close this campaign. We’ve got 19 days, and we’re taking serious all these issues.”
To Ruin or Not To Completely Ruin, McCain’s Reputation
McCain has reportedly avoided discussion of Wright because of its racial implications. Apparently, since he already stands accused of stoking crowd anger akin to the South in the 1960s, his campaign just might be willing to walk down that slippery slope and risk justifying Lewis’ proclamation.
Even before Davis took to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it was clear that members of McCain’s inner circle were pining for him to use some of Wright’s more inflammatory quotes to hammer away at Obama. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol that she didn’t know “why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said.”
Certainly there are Democrats operatives who have long anticipated the Wright card being played and are shocked, to a certain extent, that McCain has avoided the topic. One high-ranking strategist told the Huffington Post that he thought the Republican ticket could have gained far more traction by going after Obama’s pastor “as opposed to some neighborhood association” — referencing former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. McCain, he added, didn’t have to even do it himself. He could pass the task over to a 527 organization or outside group. But with the money woes facing the Republican Party, the fundraising and infrastructure for such an effort has not been built. The decision to bring up Wright is left firmly in McCain’s hands.