Reggie Love is the personal aide, aka “body man” in political circles to presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. The morning after the last presidential debate, Senator Barack Obama was fundraising spoke on Reggie Love in front of a group of supporters.
"As some of you know, I have a body guy named Reggie Love, who is very famous because he's young and good looking. You know, cooler than the candidate," he began. "But the reason I'm raising his name is that the other day, somebody said to him, 'Hey Reggie, how are you?' He said: '20 days!' And so, from here on out, any time someone asks Reggie what's going on, it's '17 days!' After two years of campaigning, that is basically our entire perspective."
The shared perspective between Barack and Reggie is the result of an intense two-year campaign which they have experienced like buddies on a long road trip.
Senator Obama likes to say that he lives vicariously through Love. It was Love who introduced Obama to Jay-Z, loading the New York rapper's music on to an iPod which he bought as a birthday present for his boss. And it was Love who introduced Obama and his wife Michelle to dap (fist-bump) that Fox News suggested was a greeting between terrorists. In truth, it was a greeting between Love and the staffers and reporters who were pretending to be as cool as him.
Reggie Love is more than a body man. His official duties are to look after the candidate's personal needs. He carries the candidate's pens, his favorite snacks and drinks, an endless supply of chewing gum, as well as numerous bottles of water. He lines up the podium before the candidate steps out, and adjusts the autocue machines to the correct height, a few inches lower than his own. In reality, there is no official job description for a body man. The personal aide shadows the senator and anticipates everything he needs — and everything he does not need. He is not a bodyguard (security is provided by the Secret Service), but rather the ultimate assistant, rarely more than a body length away from the candidate.
But the official duties don't come close to capturing Reggie's close bond with Obama, who plays a role that is part boss and part big brother. At the start of Obama's day, Reggie is with him in the hotel gym or local YMCA, where they work out together. As the day rolls along, he travels with the nominee in his armored SUV, managing the phone call list and dialing the numbers. At events, he is his personal photographer and stopwatch, alerting the candidate to the need to wrap up his comments and stick to his schedule.
At 6ft 4ins, the 26-year-old Love is a standout presence on the campaign - and not just because of his bald head or his proximity to the candidate. He was a forward for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, and played on the 2001 team that won the NCAA national championship. Love was suspended from the team in 2004 due to alcohol-related incidents, but returned and was a captain of the 2005 team. “You make mistakes and you learn from them, and you try to use them to make you a better person,” Love said. He also played wide receiver for the Duke football team, and tried out unsuccessfully with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys football teams.
He graduated in political science and public policy. A year later, he applied for an internship in Congress and landed an interview in Senator Obama's office, rising to the position of deputy political director.
Love remains the best basketball player on Team Obama, and one of a handful of the candidate's regular teammates who can dunk the ball. Back in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, Love is something of a college legend. At a rally there earlier this year, Senator Obama called him on stage and led the crowd in a chant of his name.
With his prominence has come an unusual degree of public attention. People magazine named Love one of America's most eligible bachelors. Vanity Fair listed him as one of its In items. Love was featured in the ESPN documentary show "E-60" for his role on Senator Obama's campaign.
Reggie Love has his sights set on something other than being a body guy. As the campaign winds down, Love is cramming for law school exams. His goal: to return to Duke and emerge with a law degree.