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, 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.