Presidential hopeful Herman Cain is the first Republican in the party’s 2012 nominating contest to receive Secret Service protection. According to an Associated Press report, the candidate asked for the protection. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conferred with congressional leaders, including the House speaker, the House and Senate majority and minority leaders and the House sergeant at arms, and approved his request on Thursday.
A source told AP that threats have been made against Cain, who in recent weeks has catapulted to the head of the Republican field in recent polls. The source did not, however, provide any details. But since allegations of sexual harassment during his tenure as chief executive of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s emerged, his security team has reportedly clashed with reporters.
Normally, a candidate receives Secret Service protection once he or she becomes the actual nominee, but then-Senator Barack Obama was placed under its protection in 2007 following threats that may have been racially motivated. It was the earliest period ever for a candidate to be assigned a security team with the exception of Hillary Clinton, who as a former first lady already had her own security detail.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Politico that Rev. Jesse Jackson received protection at a similar point during his two presidential campaigns in 1983 and 1987. He would not, however, say whether the decision to give Cain a security detail was prompted by threats.
“We don’t discuss the deliberations on which an assessment is made,” he said.
AP reports, however, that a man claiming to be a member of the Klu Klux Klan called Cain’s campaign headquarters and said that Cain should not run for the White House because "there's no such thing as a Black Republican."
David Bositis, a political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said that if a candidate has raised enough money, is at a certain level in the polls and provides a rationale for the service, the agency will provide protection if it is requested.
"Due to the recent surge in the polls and the large crowds of enthusiastic supporters at recent campaign events, we are appreciative of the extra level of protection provided by these elite professionals," the Cain campaign said in a statement.