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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the Trail, One Aide Looms Over Obama


By ASHLEY PARKER

In the last year, Barack Obama has learned a thing or two about running for president, and Reggie Love has learned a thing or two about Barack Obama.

Mr. Love now knows that when it comes to food, Senator Obama “eats pretty much anything, from chicken wings and barbecue and ribs to grilled fish and steamed broccoli.” But when he is campaigning in a small town with limited options, a cheeseburger is always a good bet. (“Cheddar is the cheese of choice,” Mr. Love added.)

He knows that “the boss,” as he calls Mr. Obama, likes MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew — Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. He keeps a supply of both on hand.

And he has learned that all campaigns have their superstitions — Senator John McCain has a penchant for heads-up coins — and that Mr. Obama is no exception. That means that Mr. Love and Mr. Obama, for luck, play basketball every primary day.

Mr. Love, 26, is Mr. Obama’s body man, the personal aide who 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.

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