Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tooting Her Own Horn: Who Is BHO'S White GrandMa???

This undated photo released by Obama for America shows Barack Obama with his grandparents, Stanley Armour Dunham and Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham in New York City, during a visit with Obama, who was a student at Columbia University. Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday, Oct. 23 and 24, 2008 to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly ill 86-year-old grandmother.
(AP Photo/Obama for America)

Video On Grandma Toot

Who Is Grandma Toot?

Barack Obama's campaign announced Monday that he'd be taking a few days off of the campaign trail to visit his ailing grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii.

Dunham, 85, practically raised Obama while his mother studied abroad. She's the "white grandmother" he mentions in speeches, a "trailblazer in her own right," the BBC wrote, "having risen from a lowly position to be one of the first women vice-presidents of the Bank of Hawaii."

When it was clear he would win the Democratic nomination for president, Obama said that night was for her. His grandmother, Obama told a crowd of excited fans, is the one "who poured everything she had into me and who helps to make me the man I am today."

He explains in his book "Dreams from My Father," "We call my grandmother Tutu, Toot for short; it means "grandparent" in Hawaiian, for she decided on the day I was born that she was still too young to be called Granny."

Obama credits Dunham, a Kansas native, with giving the Democratic nominee his pragmatic, hard-working side. He's written, "she's suspicious of overwrought sentiments or overblown claims, content with common sense."

That may explain her low-key reaction to her grandson's win of the Democratic nomination. During an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," Obama said his grandmother telephoned him after he clinched the nomination and simply said: "That's nice, Barry."

Even though she can't travel due to health concerns, Dunham has been a frequent presence on the campaign trail in spirit. Obama speaks of her often, talking about her heartland values and her work on a bomber assembly line during World War II.

Obama also discusses his grandmother when tackling tougher issues, like race in America. In his now-famous March speech, he said, she is "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."

Her importance in his life cannot be overstated, which is why Obama will be leaving the campaign trail with less than two weeks left until Election Day. He'll leave for Hawaii Thursday afternoon and is not planning to campaign again until Saturday.

"I think everyone understands that the decision that Senator Obama is making to go to Hawaii underscores the seriousness of the situation," campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

It is reported that Dunham broke her hip recently and is "gravely ill," but the campaign will not elaborate on how much her health has deteriorated.

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