Reggie Love: Obama played cards on day Bin Laden was killed
August 14th, 2013
05:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Reggie Love: Obama played cards on day Bin Laden was killed

(CNN) - A famous photo shows President Barack Obama hunkered down in the Situation Room in May 2011 with his national security team as U.S. Navy SEALS carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But his former body man Reggie Love said in an interview posted online Wednesday that Obama also played cards to distract himself during the day-long ordeal.

In the wide-ranging interview, which has since been removed from YouTube, Love further revealed the president's reaction upon finding his birth certificate after critics raised an uproar over his eligibility for the White House.

In the July 18 interview, which took place during a lunch hosted by UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, Love talked about life with the president, including the historic moment more than two years ago when bin Laden was killed.

Describing it as a "very long day," Love said most people were in the Situation Room but Obama came to the private dining room to play cards with Love, White House photographer Pete Souza and staffer Marvin Nicholson.

"[President Obama] was like, 'I'm not, I'm not going to be down there, I can't watch this entire thing'," Love said. "We must have played 15 hands-15 games of Spades."

Love, who left the White House at the end of 2011 to complete his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, also recalled the moment when the president "finally" found his birth certificate.

The moderator jumped in: "It took a little too long, by the way."

Explaining the delay, Love said when "your parents don't live together (and) you travel all over the world, documents get lost."

"He wanted to just have an impromptu press conference, just walk in to the press briefing room in the White House and put it down on the podium. And everyone was like 'That's a really bad idea'," Love said, drawing laughs from the audience.

"But he was very gung-ho about doing it, because he was so irritated about it," he said.

Of course, in April 2011, the president did in fact announce the news in the press briefing room, shortly after his office released the long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.

"Normally I would not comment on something like this," Obama said. But the country has pressing fiscal and other priorities, he added, and the so-called birther story had been a distraction.

Obama released a shorter, legally binding "certification of live birth" in 2008, but that failed to persuade members of the "birther" movement.

- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Just a thought

    GOP/Tea trolls are you guys so blind as to continue with your stupid rants against this president? If its not racism or bigotry, then what is it?

    August 15, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    What a fascinating article. So, do I get all upset because President Obama spent the day debating whether he should or should not give the OK to get bin Laden ... or do I get all mad because having made the decision to get bin Laden, he distracted himself from what I fully understand was a personal stress level I have never had to cope with?

    It is bad enough there are those who are using his mixed race as a reason to hate his policy ... thus going against his every move. It is worse that those who use this man negatively are also those who have cheered the economic pain so many millions of their fellow citizens have had to endure simply because the haters hate without the slightest provocation.

    To follow blind hate with blind hate? Woe be to America. Woe be to CNN for continuing to push the hate.

    August 15, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Wake up People!

    And the hate continues......

    August 15, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Just a thought

    Takes a lot of cool to be the most hated president in the history of this country with a group of malcontents constantly deriding you because of your race and the good you do in bringing this country back from its worst days....and to play cards in the middle of it all? ....simply amazing. Just imagine what the knuckle draggin' GOP/Tea Troll idiots would have said if the operation failed? I can only imagine as those idiots would wish....simply disgusting to call that patriotism.

    August 15, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  5. enuff

    So what? Bush read a book on 9/11. What is the relevance? CNN is digging.

    August 15, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. Stephen

    I know a lot of people will use this as a point of criticism, but during war, how many Soldiers spent time playing spades to relieve tension? I did not know how to play spade till I went to the sandbox.

    August 15, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. ghostwriter

    Funny....some of you conservatives are at work right now playing spades...

    August 15, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. enuff

    BREAKING NEWS: Obama was in the bathroom during the Bin Laden raid.
    It was reported by a former aid to President Obama that he used the restroom several times during the day the Bin Laden raid took place. Issa demands congressional investigation. Details at 10.

    August 15, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. ge

    he should have dressed up like a pilot and landed on a air craft carrier with a mission accomplished sign blowing in the wind -patriotic style

    August 15, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. U.S. Citizen

    Terrel Cards?

    August 15, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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