WASHINGTON — Barack Obama told his team to shave points in a pick-up basketball game with New Hampshire firefighters during the 2008 primary season to avoid a blowout that would antagonize future voters, writes former Obama aide Reggie Love in a new book.
Love — a star basketball player at Duke University — said that with Team Obama far ahead on the court in the primary battleground state, the future president called him over and whispered: “We want to win. But we also want to win their support.”
“Let’s just settle down a little bit,” Obama suggested, Love said in his memoir, “Power Forward: My Presidential Education.”
“There wasn’t a lot of dunking by our team when we played the future voters (after that),” Love writes.
He doesn’t say who won the game, but Obama lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton anyway.
Love logged thousands of miles with Obama as his hand-picked personal aide, after rising up from modest beginnings in North Carolina and joining Obama’s Senate staff.
It was a once-in-a lifetime experience — but one that often found Love invading the personal space of the future commander-in-chief.
That makes him one of the world’s experts on Obama’s personal quirks, including his taste in footwear.
“Shoes were always the biggest challenge for the senator,” writes Love. “The man was particular about his feet. He wouldn’t just throw on any old pair of mukluks. They had to look a certain way, feel a certain way. Anytime he couldn’t wear his favored dress flats, it was an issue.”
He continued: “Throughout the campaign, I was always trying to scratch and scrounge to procure the ideal footwear. I’d send screen-shots to the advance teams and say, ‘Find these!’ Also, ‘Buy wool socks!’”
Obama even weighed in on foot issues with Beyoncé when she and hubby Jay Z met Obama for the first time at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle.
Beyoncé was coming off a tour, and told Obama her feet were killing her. “You have to have a masseuse to massage your feet. That must be in the budget for the tour production,” Obama joked, according to Love.
He continued: “And Jay said, ‘Yeah, so long as it isn’t a man.’ I quipped, ‘You’ve seen “Pulp Fiction.” You never let another man massage your woman’s feet,’ after which Jay burst out laughing.”
Among the book’s other disclosures:
•Obama was particular about what he ate on the campaign trail. “No gum wrapped in tiny papers. No energy bars with fruits. Salads only in emergencies. … Nothing battered or fried.”
•When Love was going to a Wendy’s for fast food, Obama cautioned: “That stuff will kill you.” Love then asked, “Even McNuggets?” “Reggie, you won’t be young forever,” replied the president.
•Love reveals Obama’s precise Nicotine fix. “Nicorette regular flavor 2 milligrams.”
•Obama once picked all the M&Ms out of a bag of trail mix that Love bought for him. “I’m not going to eat these,” Obama said, wrinkling his nose.
•During a stop in Las Vegas, NBA great Charles Barkley called to say, “Let’s hang out.”
Obama could only dream. “Let’s just take tomorrow off and go to the Cheetah Club,” he joked to his staff, naming a “Gentleman’s Club.”
Love responded: “I’m taking a rain check on that the minute you are ex-President.”
Former aide Love and President Obama
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
As Obama’s body man, Love had no precise job description. People in charge told him to “Handle stuff.” That meant schlepping pens, ordering food, and even lending ties to the future leader of the free world.
When Obama kept wearing an ugly suit, it got “left behind” in New Hampshire. But the two formed a bond that brought Love to the White House.
Obama’s hatred of sloppy, fattening food sometimes got trumped by his ambition.
In an Iowa ritual, Obama was required to down a Maid-Rite loose meat sandwich, which Love describes as “a heap of coarsely boiled ground beef bigger than your average Chihuahua that is served spilling out of a platter-sized, fluffy white bun.”
Obama “was aware that people in Iowa loved their loose meat sandwiches, and so it went down,” White writes.
“For months after, I would tease the senator with ‘Man I cannot believe you ate that sandwich.’ And he would smile and say, ‘Nobody can ever say I didn’t want to win.’”
The book’s publication date is Feb. 3.http://nypost.com/2015/01/20/former-obama-aide-tells-all-in-new-memoir/