Campaign Insider. From Coach K and Green Bay to the Obama campaign
The love who spends each day by Barack Obama's side, attending to his every need, isn't his wife Michelle. It's Reggie Love, a 6-ft. 4-in. former Duke basketball and pro-football player who has worked with Obama for the past two years, first as a staff assistant and now as his personal aide.
Love, 25, starts most days at 6 a.m., working out in the gym with the Illinois Senator. He shadows Obama through a grueling schedule of campaign events, fund raisers and policy meetings, keeping the candidate fueled and on time. "Anything that comes up, you've just got to deal with," says Love. "There isn't a real good job description."
He played football and basketball at Duke and graduated with degrees in political science and public policy after a brief stint as a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers. While waiting to start a training program for Goldman Sachs, Love looked around Washington for an unpaid internship and ended up with the job as Obama's assistant.
Out on the campaign trail, Obama and Love sometimes challenge local police or fire departments to pickup games. In a game they played in early July, the two were on opposing teams, and Obama's team won. "For two weeks," says Love, "they were all like, 'I thought you played at Duke. I thought you had game.'" At their next game, in Sioux City, Iowa, Love stopped holding back, vowing "Never again."
Frigid temperatures, college-football bowl games, post-New Year's Eve lethargy--the Iowa caucuses have a lot going against them this election cycle. Still, despite months of electoral-calendar one-upmanship, the Hawkeye State held onto its status as the nation's first presidential matchup by moving its caucuses from Jan. 14 to Jan. 3. The Iowa contests first achieved national prominence in 1972 and '76. Since then, they have provided momentum to many a trailing candidate while halting the progress of more than a few presumed front runners.
How They Work
Despite the state's reputation as a hotbed of local political participation, only about 200,000 Iowans (6-7% of the state's population) normally participate in the caucuses. They gather in school auditoriums, churches and homes to publicly hash out their picks.
The Republican caucuses are straightforward: the candidate who receives the majority vote in each precinct wins all of that precinct's delegates.
The Democratic process is more complicated. Caucus attendees gather in separate parts of the room in candidate "preference groups." Any group with less than 15% of the total participants is deemed "nonviable."
A "realignment" process follows, during which those in "nonviable" groups abandon their candidate for another or try to cajole others to join them (thereby bringing them to 15%).
Once each remaining group has 15% or more of the participants, a complicated formula is used to determine how many delegates each candidate receives.
1972 Despite coming in second to Ed Muskie, Senator George McGovern used a solid Iowa showing to eventually win the Democratic nomination.
1976 "Uncommitted" beat Jimmy Carter by 10 points. Nonetheless, intense campaigning in Iowa put the former unknown on the road to the White House.
1992 Democrats declined to campaign against Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who handily won his state but later became one of the first candidates to drop out.
2004 Front runner Howard Dean entered Iowa with an aura of inevitability. Then came third place, the "Dean Scream" and, well ... you remember the rest.
X-mas (Air) Time
'Tis the season for religious political ads. Conservative Evangelicals are a house divided when it comes to supporting a GOP candidate, but Mike Huckabee continues his efforts to win them over. In a new TV spot, the pastor candidate claims to put politics aside in the spirit of the holiday, announcing "What really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ." His campaign insists X-mas isn't an event to spin, but with a tree in the background--and a cross, formed by the intersection of shelves--Huckabee is positioning himself as the friendly, faithful candidate, vs. Mitt Romney and his attack ads.
For daily God-o-Meter readings covering all the presidential candidates, visit beliefnet.com