, WASHINGTON, Nov 19 – US presidential hopeful Herman Cain has become the first Republican to get Secret Service protection in the 2012 election campaign, officials said Friday.
“At the request of Cain’s campaign, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano agreed, after the consultation of the congressional advisory committee,” said Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan, without elaborating.
At a press conference in Florida on Friday, Cain said while he had used private security before, “we wanted to move to that next level because of my ranking in the polls and the additional scrutiny that I have been getting.”
Media reports said aides to Cain, whose campaign has recently been marred by accusations of sexual harassment, had asked for the protection after a series of incidents involving journalists covering his public meetings.
Cain has consistently been at or near the top of Republican opinion polls, along with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, but several others are in the race for the nomination.
Cain becomes the first person in the 2012 race, aside from President Barack Obama, to benefit from the federal government’s special security service.
Obama was given Secret Service protection in May 2007, three months after he declared that he would run for president.
His main Democratic rival in that race, Hillary Clinton, already had Secret Service protection on account of being former president Bill Clinton’s wife.