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Democrat Barack Obama is canceling nearly all of his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother. Madelyn Payne Dunham, 85, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week, but her condition is very serious, campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Citing the family's desire for privacy, Gibbs would not discuss the nature of the illness. "Everyone understands the decision that Sen. Obama is making," Gibbs said. It could be a momentous one, with Election Day just two weeks away. Obama will return to the campaign trail on Saturday, Gibbs said, though he was unsure where. Events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before Obama makes the long flight to Hawaii.


'Anti-American'remark costly

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota spent months building her profile through appearances on Larry King Live and other TV talk shows. It took only a few minutes of airtime, and one disparaging remark about Barack Obama, to undo it. After saying on MSNBC's Hardball that Obama "may have anti-American views," Bachmann found herself fending off criticism from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The comment also uncorked a gusher of donations to her opponent, transforming a race she had been favored to win. Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg said his campaign brought in $810,000 in less than 72 hours, an amount he could only have imagined before the remarks. It took the former state transportation commissioner a year to raise $1-million before that.


Positive fitness report on Biden

Joe Biden appears to be very healthy, with some routine aging issues, but there's no evidence he has had a brain scan to completely rule out another aneurysm like the one that required emergency surgery 20 years ago. The Democratic vice presidential nominee's medical records, released Monday, show no reason for concern about another aneurysm. He has no symptoms, has healthy blood pressure - 120 over 78 - and seems to have healthy heart arteries. Biden, 65, mostly has minor age-related conditions to contend with: He takes medication for an enlarged prostate, but a biopsy found no cancer. He takes the statin drug Zocor to keep his cholesterol in the healthy range. His chief health complaint is chronic sinusitis. He had sinus surgery in the spring and uses the allergy medicines Claritin-D and Flonase.


Russians say nyet to misfired appeal

The Russians have turned down Sen. John McCain's request for campaign money - and had a bit of a laugh at his expense. Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, and several other diplomats at the mission received a fundraising appeal from the Republican presidential nominee on Thursday, according to Ruslan Bakhtin, a spokesman for Russia's U.N. mission. The letters, which were dated Sept. 29, did not use formal titles. That led Churkin and his colleagues to conclude that the requests stemmed from a "computer failure" by McCain's campaign, Bakhtin said.