The Reggie Love Story

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Of all the aides Barack Obama has lost, none will be missed as much as the 'body man' he describes as the little brother he never had

It counts as big news in Washington when a top aide to an American president hangs up his cleats. Reports that the current chief of staff, Bill Daley, is merely paring down his responsibilities a tad caused a minor media tempest just this last week.

The departure of a "body man", in contrast, ought not to matter a jot.

In fact, though, the ripples of the exit of Reggie Love, who has played valet and butler to Barack Obama since the start of his 2008 campaign, may be felt just as acutely in the White House as the changes in his superior's role – if not in policy, then in the rather more tangible area of the President's lifestyle. Mr Love has announced that he is moving on. Next year someone else will have to keep the POTUS train running on time, mind his briefcase and check there is a glass of water on every podium.

Republicans on the Hill and the political wonks need pay no heed. Mr Love has not – as far as we know, anyway – been setting Mr Obama's policy compass all these years. His job has been simple, but of outsized importance: to be at the President's side at all times, particularly when travelling outside the White House, and make sure he lacks for nothing. If the President has a headache, it's the body man who gives him an Aspirin. If he is presented a gift while touching hands in a crowd, it's the body man who relieves him of it.

Presidents have an array of gatekeepers, social secretaries, scheduling aides. But all of them have a body man too. A young Doug Band did it for Bill Clinton when he was in office. He has stayed by his side in the decade since, helping, for instance, to negotiate the job of Secretary of State for Hillary Clinton when Mr Obama took office. The duties of Blake Gottesman for George W Bush included dog-sitting Barney and Miss Beazley. Among fictional body men is The West Wing's Charlie Young, who becomes a kind of surrogate son to Martin Sheen's president. Mr Obama, in contrast, has referred to Mr Love as the "little brother" he has never had.

"I am an extra set of hands, if he ever needs it," Love oncesaid of his responsibilities. "Anything I can do to make life just a little bit easier is, you know, part of my job." He went on to reveal some of things he won't leave the White House without when the President is on the road. "Note pads. Lint – this is like a lint brush ...toothbrush, Scope, cough drops, Tylenol, aspirin, Sudafed."

Occasionally, though, the body man's lot is more than just a mundane bit part in the drama that runs through every administration, because they get closer than anyone, aside from a spouse, to the human threads of a president. It happened between Richard Nixon and Manolo Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant who stayed with his master even after his exile to California. Papers released this week tell of Nixon waking Sanchez one morning in May 1970 to walk with him to the Lincoln Memorial where he found himself debating the Vietnam War with protesters.

Love, still only 30, will not be going with Mr Obama into retirement or even into the headwinds of the about-to-begin 2012 election campaign. Already studying part-time for a business masters degree in Philadelphia, he has decided it's time to break free and to carry a briefcase with his own initials on it.

While Mr Obama is not about to lose a limb, it may seem like it to him for a while. Even the press corps may mourn and not just because he is a nice guy. Whether in a gym, city park or sporting arena, reporters know when Mr Obama is about to appear because there, appearing from behind the black curtains, is Love, all 6ft 5in of him, surveying the scene to make sure everything is in order.

A native of North Carolina, Love is also an athlete. He tried out for some big American Football teams before taking a punt in 2005 on working as an intern for a certain US Senator from Illinois. The men bonded over sport; they shoot hoops together on the White House court. In 2008 it became a matter of superstition for Mr Obama to spend part of every primary day blocking and dribbling with Love.

Love, according to others in the circle of young aides in the White House, has not been without power, sometimes discreetly screening which visitors get to spend time with the Commander-in-Chief and which don't. And in the meantime he imparted a little cool to Mr Obama too, famously stocking his digital music player with a little gentle hip-hop and rap. He has "has downloaded Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne and some of these folks so that I am, you know, not a complete fuddy-duddy", the President once said. He ventured that, in return, he had "hipped him to Aretha Franklin and John Coltrane".

The term "body man" doesn't do justice to what Mr Love became to President Obama. "He is the master of what he does," said the President in a statement yesterday. Factotum might work, except that it implies servitude and is too old-fashioned. Mr Obama perhaps got somewhere close when he coined a special word for what Mr Love meant to him. He called him his "iReggie".

Aides: First Friends

David Powers

John F. Kennedy was canvassing when he knocked on Powers' door in 1946 and said: "I am a candidate for Congress. Will you help me?" Powers said yes and when JFK entered the White House, he became 'First Friend'. His role included greeting world leaders to making JFK laugh.

Manuel "Manolo" Sanchez

Known as "The Man's man", Cuban-born Sanchez became Richard M. Nixon's valet in 1962. He said the former President's frequent order was: "Manolo, stay where I can see you".

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

**ESOL**

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job:* The Tutor will prepar...

Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in B...

*****English/Maths Teacher*****

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Preston: English/Maths Teacher require...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album