By Jim Kouri
In a rare occurrence, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain will be the first of the Republican candidates to be placed under the protection of the U.S. Secret Service, according to a press statement on Friday.
The former Chief Executive Officer of Godfather’s Pizza will be guarded by the federal law enforcement agency, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of current and former national leaders and their families, such as the president.
According to a Law Enforcement Examiner source in D.C., the Secret Service is preparing for what’s expected to be an intense election cycle. They are expected to provide President Obama his usual high-degree of personal protection, and as many as eight Republican presidential candidates with personal protection throughout their campaigns.
The Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the request of the Cain campaign staff consulted with the advisory committee of the U.S. Congress which on Friday authorized protection for Cain,” George Ogilvy, a spokesman for the Secret Service.
The protection of an individual is comprehensive and goes well beyond surrounding the individual with well-armed agents. As part of the Secret Service’s mission of preventing an incident before it occurs, the agency relies on meticulous advance work and threat assessments developed by its Intelligence Division to identify potential risks to protectees.
The reason Cain asked for such protection is still unknown. Secret Service agents usually provide protection to “major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election,” according to the U.S. Secret Service’s web site.
While Cain is getting protection earlier than usual, it’s rare but not unprecedented. President Barack Obama received protection in May 2007,18 months before the general election.
Cain, who is facing sexual harassment allegations, is virtually tied with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as front-runners for the U.S. Republican presidential nomination. Twenty-three percent of Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents support Cain, with Romney at 24 percent, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
There are 16 declared contenders running for the GOP nomination. Of those, about eight have the polling numbers to indicate they are popular enough to have a chance at waging a successful campaign.
The U.S. Secret Service is authorized by law (18 United States Code § 3056) to protect:
- The president, the vice president, (or other individuals next in order of succession to the Office of the President), the president-elect and vice president-elect
- The immediate families of the above individuals
- Former presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes, except when the spouse remarries. In 1997, Congressional legislation became effective limiting Secret Service protection to former presidents for a period of not more than 10 years from the date the former president leaves office
- Children of former presidents until age 16
- Visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States, and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad
- Major presidential and vice presidential candidates, and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election. As defined in statute, the term “major presidential and vice presidential candidates” means those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and one additional member selected by the other members of the committee.
- Other individuals as designated per Executive Order of the President
- National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security