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US presidential election

Obama halts campaign to visit sick grandma

Article published on the 2008-10-21 Latest update 2008-10-21 13:53 TU

Obama (c) with grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham in an undated photo(File photo: Reuters)

Obama (c) with grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham in an undated photo
(File photo: Reuters)

Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama will take a break from campaigning on Thursday to spend a couple of days with his ailing 85-year-old grandmother in Hawai'i, just 11 days before the election. He is cancelling events in midwestern Iowa and Wisconsin to spend Thursday afternoon and Friday with Madelyn Dunham before hitting the trail again on Saturday, his campaign adviser said.

Dunham's health was described as "deteriorating", but no further information was given. Dunham played an instrumental role in Obama's upbringing and he had previously spoken of her in a speech, calling her an anchor in his life.

Obama is leading in the polls in Iowa and Wisconsin, so this brief pause does not seem to pose a major election risk.

Mudslinging in the campaign has been an issue in the last month before the presidential elections. Obama has accused Republican presidential candidate John McCain of an "ugly" bid to gain points with swing voters as he has been slipping in the polls.

"It's getting so bad that even Senator McCain's running mate denounced his tactics last night...You really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin's standards on negative campaigning," Obama said.

McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has accused Obama of fraternising with former terrorists, criticised some Republican campaign tactics, saying she would not rely on "old conventional ways of campaigning, that includes those robo-calls."

The McCain campaign has been using automated calls to try and gain more votes in the swing states.