According to the New York Times, Dunham, 85, is gravely ill. Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to specify the nature of her illness, other than to say it was quite serious. Dunham lives in Honolulu. "I think everyone understands that the decision that Senator Obama is making to go to Hawaii underscores the seriousness of the situation. As he has said, she poured everything she had into him," the paper quoted Gibbs, as saying. The Obama campaign has canceled scheduled appearances by Obama in Des Moines and Madison, Wisconsin.
The senator will make an unexpected stop in Indianapolis on Thursday before leaving for Hawaii on Thursday afternoon. He will return to the mainland Friday evening and rejoin the campaign trail on Saturday.
Leaving the campaign trail with just 15 days to go before elections, carries an element of risk, even though Obama is running ahead in every national poll.
That said, Obama has little family left. His father and mother are dead, along with his grandfather, Stanley Dunham. His grandmother raised him for many years, while his mother lived in Indonesia.