Cain says security concerns prompted request for Secret Service protection

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"When he gets out at a rally or a campaign stop, it has been increasingly common for media to be physically putting themselves and others in danger by trying to follow him with a lot of heavy equipment and cameras in close quarters like we saw yesterday," Gordon told the Post. He said that the candidate was drawing between a dozen and 50 media members to most campaign stops.

But in Florida, Cain attributed the request to the success of his campaign, saying at a separate event in Orlando that "we wanted to move to that next level because of my ranking in the polls and the additional scrutiny that I have been getting."

"It's just that it was time because of the popularity of my campaign," Cain said. "It was just time to go to that next step and I'm just glad that, you know, we were given that opportunity so we are delighted to have it."

Cain is the first Republican candidate to receive Secret Service protection this election cycle. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano authorized the detail after consulting with a congressional advisory committee.

While Cain is receiving protection early - the committee does not usually assign protection until four months before the general election - the move is not unprecedented. President Barack Obama received protection in May 2007, 18 months before the general election. Hillary Clinton, Obama's leading primary opponent, was already under protection as a former first lady.

Some campaigns have been eager to be assigned the protection in the past, figuring that the presence of the Secret Service gave their campaigns a sense of legitimacy - and shifted the cost of security from the campaign to the federal government. But the last GOP nominee - Arizona Sen. John McCain - refused protection early in the 2008 contest, saying that the Secret Service detail was intrusive and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The federal agency, tasked with protecting the president and preventing the circulation of counterfeit currency, made headlines earlier this week when they arrested 21-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez in Pennsylvania. Ortega-Hernandez is suspected of firing a gun twice at the White House late last week, breaking a window on the residential level of the building. He has been charged with attempted assassination of the president, a crime that carries a lifetime sentence.