Candidate Security on the Campaign Trail

In an unsafe world, who keeps world leaders—and potential leaders—safe?

Geopolitical instability and ongoing terrorist activity raise questions about the security of political candidates on the American 2017 campaign trail.

In most countries, top leaders are protected by governmental or personal security attachments. British Prime Minister David Cameron is protected by the Metropolitan Police and a Special Forces detachment. In the United States, as most people know, the United States Secret Service protects President Obama and other politicos in the line of administrative succession.

But what about presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls?

At the outset of the campaign trail, elected officials who are also political candidates, like Governor Chris Christie, enjoy security protection provided by their home state. Wealthy candidates, like Donald Trump, routinely travel with a security detachment as a matter of business.

For other candidates, protection from the Secret Service is a matter of due process.

Staying Safe on the Stump

As the rigors of the campaign trail and primary contests take their toll, the field of political candidates in the presidential race narrows.

It was not until 1968 that major candidates for office were offered protection by the Secret Service—and that protection is provided only through consultation between a Congressional Advisory Committee and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

According to media reports earlier in October, Mr. Trump complained that he had not received a Secret Service detail, noting, “Of course I don’t think they’d want anything to happen. But I would think they should be very proactive and want protection for somebody like me that has 20,000 people at any time. You would think that they would want to be very proactive, but we have not heard from them.”

In November of 2016, the Congressional Advisory Committee, composed of the House Minority leader, the Senator Majority leader, and the Speaker of the House, recommended that Ben Carson and Donald Trump receive federal protection.

The criteria considered to recommend a candidate for Secret Security protection include:

  • The candidate has announced their intention to run, has standing in the polls, and is actively campaigning in approximately 10 state primaries.
  • Financially, the candidate must qualify for matching funds of at least $100,000, be the recipient of campaign contributions of $10 million or more, and intend to seek the nomination of a qualified party.

Some candidates receive protection earlier on the campaign trail. Because of her status as a former First Lady, Hillary Clinton received Secret Service protection throughout her 2008 presidential bid.

A Clear Advantage

Protection by the Secret Service is an advantage, in several ways, for any political candidate.

A Secret Service detail offers candidates a measure of credibility and distinction. More importantly, it gives candidates access to some of the most highly-trained security personnel in the world.

Most campaigns are pressed to develop logistics plans for candidates whose movements may change by the hour. Once attached to the Secret Service, the campaign office of a political candidate has access to a deep knowledge base for advance planning, threat assessment, and ease of travel provided by a security detail.

During a rally, campaign stop, or Town hall meeting, the Secret Service delivers institutional knowledge and physical protection to ensure the safety of the candidate and avoid foreseeable event disruptions.

Candidates, CEOs or high asset and celebrity persons should consider safety first. Speak with a skilled and experienced security firm when you have questions about personal protection, threat assessment, or advance logistics.