In tiny Amana, Iowa, it was all Reggie Love could find for his boss to eat: a plate of over-fried walleye.
“When you're in a town like this,” Barack Obama told him, “just get me a cheeseburger.”
Love, who graduated from Charlotte's Providence Day and played basketball and football at Duke University, is Obama's “body man.” He makes sure the candidate has something to eat, knows what to wear and gets places on time. He checks Obama's phone messages and returns calls.
Once, when a young girl in Iowa asked Obama for a T-shirt, Love literally gave her the shirt off his back.
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It's a job that Love, 26, has done for 19 months. (“But who's counting?” he says.)
He came to the campaign after working in Obama's Senate office, which he joined after brief stints with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and after turning down a job with Goldman Sachs.
Love has compared the campaign to preseason practice, without the bruises. He has had to remind himself where he is and where he's headed each day. He likes to think he's the “same fun-loving, nonchalant 23-year-old I was when I started working for the senator in 2006.”
But he has had experiences some don't get in a lifetime.
He has traveled with Obama to every state but Alaska. He joined Obama in a walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Ala., and celebrated his win in January's Iowa caucuses.
Along the way, he has gotten to know Obama like few have.
“He's still my boss,” Love said. “But when you spend this much time, you definitely build a bond. He's kind of like a big brother to me.”
Love says he hopes to return to North Carolina some day. A few months ago, he came to Cricket Arena in Charlotte with Obama.
“Every time we land in Charlotte,” he says, “I let out sort of a yell of excitement to be back home.”