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Obama grandmother dies

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones

The Democratic nominee's campaign announced this afternoon that Obama's grandmother has died at the age of 86. The nominee last saw her on Oct 23-24 when he flew home to Hawaii to see the ailing "Toot," who helped to raise him while his mother was overseas.

Video: Madelyn Dunham, the grandmother who raised Barack Obama in Hawaii has died after a long battle with cancer. NBC's Lee Cowan reports.

Here is the statement just released by Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer.  She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility.  She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.  She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring.  Our debt to her is beyond measure.

Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes, and prayers during this difficult time.  It brought our grandmother and us great comfort.  Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date.   In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to any worthy organization in search of a cure for cancer."

*** UPDATE *** The McCain campaign just issued a statement in response to the news. "We offer our deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother. 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."