Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will receive Secret Service protection, according to Fox News’ Ed Henry on Twitter. Henry did not cite the source of the information.
Sanders will be joining Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson in being the only candidates with protection services from the agency. Clinton has retained protection since her time as First Lady, while Carson and Trump requested protection last year due to perceived threats to their person. It is not clear at this time what prompted the decision to protect Sanders.
Breaking: @SenSanders getting Secret Service protection
— Ed Henry (@edhenry) January 30, 2016
This decision comes on the final weekend of campaigning before the Iowa caucuses. FOX40 verified that a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said it received an official request from the Sanders campaign for the Vermont Senator to receive Secret Service protection.
The agency did not provide further details on the request, but the department and a congressional advisory committee, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, House minority leader Harry Reid, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, are reviewing it.
Despite continuously trailing behind Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Sanders has become a leading candidate for the 2016 presidential campaign. Fox40 noted that while the exact reasoning for the agency granting the request is not known, it was likely due to the large crowds the candidate’s events draw.
“Sanders is drawing some of the largest crowds of the presidential election cycle, including a crowd of 20,000 in Minnesota this week. A private security detail has been accompanying Sanders at some of his stops. Last week — before Sanders’ campaign made the request — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN that Sanders would likely get the protection based on his crowd sizes.”
The Secret Service frequently deploys a team of agents to protect all frontrunning candidates as the first major electoral events for nominating presidential candidates approach. This has been a tradition ever since the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
According to a report by the 2000 Congressional Research Service, while the definition of a frontrunner is fairly loose, to qualify the declared candidate must have raised at least $2 million and obtain at least 5 percent in the national polls. In 2007, Barack Obama was given Secret Service protection by George W. Bush because of increasing threats to his safety. Similarly, in the 2012 election Secret Service agents were assigned to GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Secret Service details being assigned to protect candidates is not a crazy idea, despite the strained resources of the agency. There is a real threat to candidates who appear in front of crowds of thousands of people, as the current tumultuous international situation demonstrates. The Hill also quoted a source as saying some of the candidates had already received quite a number of threats, including Ben Carson, who was initially reluctant to accept Secret Service but changed his mind when confronted with intelligence about potential threats.
“A source told Newsmax that Carson had received a number of threats, calling them ‘off the charts.'”
There are also worries about the possibility, however remote, that militants from ISIS will attempt to strike a major political target on U.S. soil for maximum media exposure. Carson and Trump have since both been assigned approximately two dozen agents apiece, and Clinton’s security has been considerably beefed up.
According to another report by The Hill, candidates with Secret Service protection are given code names. It is not known what Sanders’ code name will be.
“Trump’s code name is ‘mogul,’ a nod to his status as a billionaire businessman, while Carson’s is ‘Eli,’ a reference to the Biblical prophet. Clinton goes by ‘Evergreen.'”
The Sanders campaign has not commented on the possibility of a Secret Service detail.
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