Tossing Javelin - when the Secret Service can abandon Mitt Romney

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Mitt Romney talks with secret service agents as he boards his campaign plane in Bedford, Mass., on election day. Hopefully “goodbye” was somewhere in the discussion. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND

As a contender for President of the United States, Mitt Romney has been living with one trapping the office offers: Secret Service protection.

From the time he accepted his party’s nomination, he became Javelin – the Secret Service’s code name for the Republican contender. He was afforded ’round-the-clock agents to keep him safe on the campaign trail.

But now he’s simply Citizen Romney again. No campaign. No speeches. No town halls. So when does the Secret Service toss the Javelin? How soon after an election is over does the also-ran lose his right to the men in black suits?

Slate’s Explainer blog says not long – maybe a week. While a former president can expect 10 years of protection after leaving office, a losing candidate really doesn’t warrant anything by law. Security details will stay with them for a few days as the campaign winds down, but it’s at the discretion of the Service.

In case you’re curious, the Obamas, Bidens and Ryans have their own Secret Service code names – they can chose their own, as Paul Ryan did, or have them assigned – as well:

  • Paul Ryan: Bowhunter
  • Janna Ryan: Buttercup
  • Mitt Romney: Javelin
  • Ann Romney: [not reported]
  • Joe Biden: Celtic
  • Jill Biden: Capri
  • Barack Obama: Renegade
  • Michelle Obama: Renaissance
  • Malia Obama: Radiance
  • Sasha Obama: Rosebud

From the Slate post:

For a few days. The Secret Service is authorized by law to protect major party presidential candidates beginning 120 days before the general election, but the statute doesn’t say when that protection should cease. It appears that the service makes this decision on case-by-case basis. Historically, agents have stuck with a defeated challenger for about a week after the election, not waiting for the Electoral College vote or inauguration. If the incumbent loses, he is entitled to protection for 10 years as a former president. (Presidents who served before 1997 are guarded for life.)

The Secret Service is charged with protection details for presidents, vice presidents, political candidates, foreign dignitaries and other high level officials. And that all-encompassing coverage comes at a cost – estimated at $40,000 daily for a presidential candidate, according to Salon.

The Secret Service breaks down it’s protective mission – and the techniques and philosophy behind its job – on its site:

In general, permanent protectees, such as the president and first lady, have details of special agents permanently assigned to them. Temporary protectees, such as candidates and foreign dignitaries, are staffed with special agents on temporary assignment from Secret Service field offices. All current former presidents are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. However, as a result of legislation enacted in 1997, President George W. Bush will be the first president to have his protection limited to 10 years after he leaves office. Protection for Presidential Candidates In regard to presidential campaign, the Secret Service is authorized by law (18 United States Code 3056) to protect: 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. The Secret Service provides protection for major candidates, unless declined. The Secret Service has no role in determining who is to be considered a major candidate. The Secretary of the Homeland Security determines who qualifies as a major candidate and when such protection should commence under the authority of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3056. This determination is made in consultation with an advisory committee comprised of the following individuals:

  • Speaker of the House
  • House Minority Whip
  • Senate Majority Leader
  • Senate Minority Leader
  • One additional member chosen by the committee
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