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Outgoing Obama aide can't stand the heat

23 November 2011, 09:01

Washington - US President Barack Obama's personal aide, gatekeeper and basketball sparring partner Reggie Love says that one of the coolest jobs in the world sometimes has its downside: No air conditioning.

"The thing that used to kill me is that the guy loves to ride around with the AC off in the summertime," Love said in an interview with an ESPN sports television network to be broadcast on Tuesday on ABC television.

"And I get hot. I start sweating. And I'm like, it's 26°c in this car. I'm going to pass out," said Love, 30, who is due to step down later this year to attend the University of Pennsylvania's elite Wharton School of Business.

Obama, who is known to keep his Oval Office at temperatures reminiscent of his native Hawaii, was a senator when he first brought the towering 1.9m former college basketball star into his orbit in 2006.

Known as a "body man", Love is a cross between a personal valet and constant companion for Obama, is often asked for a pen so the president can sign T-shirts of supporters and acts as a partner on the basketball court.

Love is always with Obama, in the White House, on his Marine One helicopter, as the president shakes hands on a ropeline at campaign events, or criss-crosses the globe aboard his Air Force One official airplane.

The two have flown an astounding 1.4 million kilometres together since Obama launched his historic 2008 run for the White House, according to researchers at ABC television.

US presidents are known to carry little if anything in their pockets, so Love carries a bag with travel essentials: collar stays, stain remover, and dental products that Obama does not hesitate to use in front of him.

"If he had it his way, I think he'd floss in private," Love said. "I think the fact that he was comfortable with me is probably a product of, you know, he's beaten down. I've been around for so long."

Back in 2010, before he got his iPad, Obama was asked by a New York Times reporter whether he had one of the wildly popular Apple devices and quipped: "I have an iReggie, who has my books, my newspapers, my music all in one place."

Obama has been to 31 countries - a few more than once- and 40 of the 50 US states since his January 2009 inauguration, according to statistics kept by CBS news, with Love a fixture at his side.

Love told ESPN he was grateful to be a "very long passenger on an amazing ride" and that he'll miss quiet moments with the president, including an evening ritual when Obama checks in to say what the next day holds in store.

"I know definitely I'm going to miss that," Love said.

"He's been like big brother to me, a mentor. I've learned so much about life from him."



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