x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Obama mourns grandmother's death

The woman whose personality shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, dies two days before the election.

Barack Obama speaks at his last campaign rally before election day Manassas, Virginia.
Barack Obama speaks at his last campaign rally before election day Manassas, Virginia.

HONOLULU // Barack Obama's grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died two days before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Mr Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, North Carolina. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Mrs Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer. "She's gone home," Mr Obama said, tears running down both cheeks as tens of thousands of rowdy supporters at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte grew silent in an evening drizzle. "And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. And so there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it is hard for me to talk about." But he said he wanted people to know a little about her - that she lived through the Great Depression and World War II, working on a bomber assembly line with a baby at home and a husband serving his country. He said she was humble and plain spoken, one of the "quiet heroes that we have all across America" working hard and hoping to see their children and grandchildren thrive. "That's what we're fighting for," Mr Obama said. The family said a private ceremony would be held later. Republican John McCain issued condolences to his opponent. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives," the statement by John and Cindy McCain said. Last month, Mr Obama took a break from campaigning and flew to Hawaii to be with Mrs Dunham as her health declined. *AP