He stands behind her, guarded and on the lookout. His head is turning left, then right, then left again, the way one watches a tennis match.
Philippe Reines could be mistaken for a Secret Service agent for Chelsea Clinton, the former first daughter who is anxious to regain that title. Now, as a crowd surrounds the youngest Clinton at a Marshall University campaign stop, Reines is on the lookout for hangers-on, swooning frat boys and, mostly, looming trouble in the form of microphones, cameras and notepads.
When sharp-elbowed television reporters manage to slip through the crowd and face Clinton, he reaches out his arm to shield the 28-year-old surrogate, points to the side of the room like a stone-faced traffic cop and tells the reporters, "I'll talk to you over there." Far from Chelsea.
Since Clinton doesn't speak to reporters, Reines is her voice. When inquiring minds approach Clinton to say hello, she has been known to say, "Have you met Philippe?"
"If I wasn't paid to talk to reporters, I wouldn't, either," said Reines, who has become the surrogate's surrogate in the face of growing criticism that the campaign is protecting her like a child. "Chelsea smartly knows that if she gives an inch of her privacy, she loses a foot."
Lately, college students in Chelsea's audiences have been testing her limits with questions about her father, former President Bill Clinton, and his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. At first, Chelsea bristled at the comments. Now, she is prepared with a brief response.
Reines has been there for every awkward moment, helping keep the bubble surrounding Chelsea from popping. Aslongtime press-secretary-turned-senior-adviser, he is more than used to the tabloid headlines, the mobs of photographers who constantly chase the senator and the game of defense he must play to challenge the scrutiny.
"I think it's like being a hockey goalie," Reines said. "You're deflecting the puck with your stick, your face mask, your knees - whatever works.
"When you have a sentence or less to address unflattering situations, you need to make those words count," he added.
Lately, though, the 38-year-old spokesman has to make those words count for not one but two Clintons.
He is living a double life, carrying two sets of business cards and picking up paychecks from both the Senate and the campaign.
Reines may sport a sweater, jeans and a five o'clock shadow when he's on the road with Chelsea, but he's still juggling his Senate responsibilities along with Sarah Gegenheimer, Clinton's communications director.
And whenever Hillary Clinton takes a break from the trail and returns to the Hill, Reines always follows. Last week, as the senator questioned Army Gen. David Petraeus at an Armed Services Committee hearing, Reines was seated directly behind her.
"It's rock, paper, scissors," Reines quips. "Hillary trumps Chelsea."
Throughout the day, Reines stays in close touch with the travelling press aides to Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Although seemingly a natural fit, Reines wasn't considered for either of those jobs when they were filled last year. He dismisses the notion that any of the well-chronicled rifts within Hillaryland played any part in those decisions, saying, "We're all in the roles that Sen. Clinton feels suit us best, and I love mine."
But campaign insiders say it's no coincidence that Reines took on a more visible role on the Chelsea Clinton stump at about the same time Patti Solis Doyle was pushed aside as Clinton's campaign manager. Aides say the two have had a very acrimonious relationship going back several years.
However he got there, Reines says time on the road with Chelsea offers a "refreshing change" from the life he has grown accustomed to in Washington. He now spends his days living out of a rolling bag ("with as many clothes as I can jam in") and crisscrossing the country while visiting 33 states and more than 100 colleges. Together with Bari Lurie, a longtime Clinton aide who directs and manages the road show, Reines and Chelsea have logged more than 7,000 miles.
In the past two and a half months, he has been home 10 days.
Although Chelsea Clinton has become an indefatigable surrogate for her mother, engaging in lengthy question-and-answer sessions with students, she has been criticized for not speaking to the press. While Sen.daughters have been off-limits to the press, they're just 6 and 9.
Sen.23-year-old daughter, Meghan, has made herself available to reporters, as did Mitt Romney's sons when their father was still in the race.
Chelsea Clinton, on the other hand, has erected a no-press wall so thick that in December she even refused to answer a question from a 9-year-old "kid reporter" from Scholastic News who asked whether she thought her father would be a good "first man."
"I'm sorry," she told the child. "I don't talk to the press, and that applies to you, unfortunately - even though I think you're cute."
Reines' explanation for the no-reporters rule: "Everyone has a right to define their privacy," he said. "I agree with what she's doing and how she's doing it." Then, pausing for a moment, he takes it a step further.
"Every one of these events is open to the media," Reines added, his eyes spitting fire. "Every word this woman is saying is on camera. What else would anyone want to know?"
The situation blew up in February after MSNBC's David Shuster said that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her parents for the campaign.
The comment incensed Reines, who immediately fired off an angry e-mail to Shuster, and their back-and-forth-BlackBerrying nastiness soon found its way to the Web. Looking back, Reines said he went "from zero to 60" in the response because Shuster's language "really grabbed me."
"Sometimes you really need to make a big deal about something like that, because if you don't, those moments keep happening," he said. "We could either say, 'Oh well, that's the media,' or we could say, 'Enough is enough.'"
Shuster was suspended, and Reines said he has no regrets. "I would do it again," he said.
Over the years, Reines' grating nature has rubbed some reporters the wrong way.
"I haven't exactly had the best experiences with Philippe," said one network correspondent who has worked closely with all the campaigns. "He's clearly power-hungry, a little too big for his britches, and he almost tries to browbeat you if he isn't happy with a story."
Another reporter who has dealt with Reines repeatedly said his "highly controlling" approach is probably what made Clinton choose him to be her daughter's handler. "Some press secretaries try to get their bosses in the paper as much as possible," the reporter said. "Philippe tries to limit access and keep reporters as far away as possible."
The reporter said Reines is "a master at using his BlackBerry as a defensive shield: Ask him four questions on his voice mail and you'll get a pithy 12-word response on e-mail."
Reines' roots are on New York's Upper West Side, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother and had a particular love of dodgeball. The spokesman said he had no idea he wanted to go into politics, and he had a late start in getting there. He stumbled in high school ("I cut a lot of class") and through college, transferring to three different schools. In between, he worked on the trading desks of banks in Boston and New York.
He finally landed at Columbia University and spent two semesters in Beijing while learning Mandarin.
On the day he received his political science degree in 2000 - at the age of 30 - Reines packed his bags and moved to Nashville, Tenn., to work as a researcher on Al Gore's presidential campaign. When Gore lost, Reines returned to New York in a funk.
"I slept all day, I didn't shave," he said.
Then one day, someone suggested he apply to become Gore's teaching assistant for his journalism class at Columbia. Reines got the job. Later, he worked on a mayoral campaign in New York. That led to a short-lived job working for Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) before Hillary Clinton came calling.
Reines was invited in for an interview, and Clinton hired him on the spot.
"I've been very lucky to have Philippe on my team on both defense and offense, through thick and through thin," the senator said. "Philippe has been a pitch-perfect voice on my behalf and an increasingly close adviser whom I have grown to trust and depend on for the unvarnished truth - dispensed with his trademark humor every single day."
Over the past six years, he has become a key adviser to her on Iraq issues and - because of his quick wit - for less weighty matters, like appearances on "Saturday Night Live."
"He's always the person you go to when you need a funny line," said Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign's communications director.
Wolfson said Reines was "the perfect choice" to join Chelsea Clinton on the campaign trail. "With Philippe's help," Wolfson said, "Chelsea's appearances have been extremely positive for the campaign."
Chelsea Clinton - through Reines, of course - declined to answer questions for this story.
By Amie Parnes