A “body man” is a politician’s special personal assistant. The body man might fetch coffee or make sure the politician’s tie is on straight for a debate. President John F. Kennedy’s “body man” was Dave Powers, but Powers was called a “special assistant” or the president’s “right-hand man.”
New York City politician Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (1944-1993) was said to have a “body man” by the November 7, 1977 New York magazine. “Body man” was rarely cited in print, however, before 1988.
“Body woman” has been cited in print since at least 2008.
Wikipedia: Body man
A body man is, in U.S. political jargon, a personal assistant to a politician or political candidate. A body man accompanies the politician or candidate virtually everywhere, often arranging lodging, transportation or meals, and providing companionship, snacks, a cell phone, and any other necessary assistance.
Hatchet Jobs and Hardball:
The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang
By Grant Barrett
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
body man n. a personal aide
1988 Boston Globe (April 17) 18:
Every candidate has a body man, someone who fulfills a kind of mothering role on the trail. The body man makes sure the candidate’s tie is straight for the TV debate, keeps his mood up, and makes sure he gets his favorite cereal for breakfast.
1993 St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mar. 14) 6A:
As Gephardt’s floor director, Stephanopoulos helped coordinate the (Pg. 62—ed.) daily action in the House chamber an served as the “body man”—the key aide who accompanied the House majority leader everywhere in the Capitol.
1996 Denver Post (June) 10 B7:
Lindsey is Clinton’s body man. As the handyman, adviser and enforcer, he sticks to Clinton like a tattoo.
7 November 1977, New York magazine, “Son of Bob vs. Son of Jerry” by Michael Kramer, pg. 46, col. 1:
Now a “body man” is in constant attendance. The “body man” picks Bobby (Bobby Wagner—ed.) up in the morning and drops him off at night, and in between he delivers him to where he’s supposed to be—on time.
17 September 1993, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), “Stephanopoulos has president’s ear” by Fred Barnes (The New Republic):
Stephanopoulos worked as “body man” for House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt from 1989-91, hovering constantly at his side.
The Young Master of the White House
By DAVID VAN BIEMA;James Carney and Michael Duffy/Washington Monday, Apr. 04, 1994
And it is he (George Stephanopoulos—ed.) who serves as the President’s “policy body man,” hovering near him throughout the day, providing continuity and calculating each issue’s relative importance.
New York (NY) Times
The Way We Live Now: 2-25-01: On Language; Body Man
By William Safire
Published: February 25, 2001
Earliest citation I can find after a quick rattling of the cages is from a 1988 article by Susan Trausch of The Boston Globe: ‘’Every candidate has a body man, someone who fulfills a kind of mothering role on the trail. The body man makes sure the candidate’s tie is straight for the TV debate, keeps his mood up and makes sure he gets his favorite cereal for breakfast.’’ The columnist Chris Matthews, who used the phrase in print in 1989, recalls that J.F.K.’s body man was David Powers.
The phrase suggests that the aide does not deal with the president’s mind. However, the title was given more dignity recently by Mary McGrory in The Washington Post. ‘’Thanks to ‘The West Wing,’ the classy television series,’’ she wrote, ‘’everyone knows what a ‘body man’ is. He’s the one who hovers over the Big Man, making sure his suit is pressed, his shoes are shined and his speech is stapled in order.’’
ABC Good Morning America
Bush’s ‘Body Man’ Leaves White House
June 16, 2006
Gottesman, 26, has been the president’s personal aide for more than four years and gets more face time with Bush than the vice president or White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
He is sometimes called the president’s “body man” or the “two-minute man” because he lets the media know the president is about to arrive.
Former Duke athlete now starting in the political arena
Updated: January 16, 2009, 7:21 PM ET
By David Picker | Special to ESPN.com
These days, the Obama-Love connection is constantly in play. Love is Obama’s body man, a title given to the personal aide of every president and presidential candidate. Anyone who has seen the Charlie Young character on “The West Wing” will know what the job entails.
Obama’s body man speaks out
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
Updated 2011-11-22 9:52 AM
President Obama is losing not only his “body man,” but the guy who introduced him to the music of Lil Wayne and Jay-Z.
Presidential assistant Reggie Love, who is leaving the White House soon to attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, talked about life at Obama’s side in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, September 19, 2012 • Permalink