Shocker: McCain without Secret Service protection

posted at 5:35 pm on April 3, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama began receiving Secret Service protection in May 2007, it marked the earliest application of that regime to any presidential candidate. Is there a record for the latest? It will probably be set by John McCain, who might forego it even after he wins the election:

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) may be the presumptive GOP nominee for president, but, by his own wishes, he is not being protected by the Secret Service.

“He has not requested protection,” Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told a congressional subcommittee this morning. “We have no involvement at this point.”

In opting not to take the protection, McCain is following through on plans he outlined to reporters late last year on his Straight Talk Express campaign bus.

Members of the House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee were surprised by Sullivan’s revelation. Sullivan said his agency had been in contact with McCain’s staff. But a candidate has no legal requirement to take protection.

By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on May 3, 2007, became the earliest presidential candidate to receive protection outside of his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), who already received protection by virtue of being a former first lady.

McCain wants rethink the scale of protection afforded presidents, if elected himself. He sees the impact to cities when presidents travel and wants to avoid costly urban snarls created by the massive security efforts. Even in the Twin Cities, a presidential visit will have such impact on travel that it disrupts traffic patterns in the suburban ring for hours afterwards, and many grumble about the necessity of it.

However, it is necessary, especially in a time of terrorism and war. Even under the best of circumstances in America, we have had our share of lone nuts taking potshots at Presidents. We have seen four die from assassinations, and several others survive attempts. Ronald Reagan barely survived the attempt on his life, and Gerald Ford got lucky when two attempts in a month both were carried out ineptly. Franklin Roosevelt avoided assassination once as well — and all of these took place before we found ourselves at war with terrorist groups adept at suicide-style assassinations.

Since McCain promises to fight the terrorists vigorously if elected, he should take care to have enough security around him to ensure his survival. It may feel like an imposition and a burden, but it will hardly be the worst of either he will face as President. We can put up with some inconvenience, but we need to show the world that we know how to protect our elected leaders.


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His choice.

Theworldisnotenough on April 3, 2008 at 5:40 PM

It is quite the contrast to give my wife’s employer gifts from the treasury, media prima donna, I know how to run your life just put me in charge Obama…

Theworldisnotenough on April 3, 2008 at 5:42 PM

I think this is foolish on his part. Especially now that it has leaked. There is no reason to not have a security detail.

JellyToast on April 3, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Maybe he knows he got no chance of being president?

I will not vote for him anyway, even if Hussein gets the nomination by Affirmative Action.

I have principles.

They never back down, especially not for a traitor who is selling America to Mexico.

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 5:43 PM

This is silly and unecessary, especially now that it is public. If true, it smacks of bravado which is a luxury we can’t afford. Better than worrying about a few traffic snarls, he should think about the turmoil that happens with an assassination attempt.

a capella on April 3, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Time is a bigger threat to him.

LevStrauss on April 3, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Maybe every would be assassin just can’t bear the thought of being stuck with Hillary or Obama?

ToddonCapeCod on April 3, 2008 at 5:47 PM

Ummmmmmmmmmmm………. just one simple question for Senator McCain.

“If an Al Queda terrorist was standing next to you, how would you know?

Seven Percent Solution on April 3, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Badass (probably packing heat).

Maybe his wife is carrying(?).

BobH on April 3, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Very foolish, egotistical man.

It is no longer about him at this point. It’s about national security. Considering how cavalierly he has treated the security of individual Americans relevant to the criminal alien invasion, I guess we can, at the very least, know him to be consistently inconsistent.

We have an old saying where I come from, “That boy ain’t right”.

HonestConservative on April 3, 2008 at 5:48 PM

I have principles.

I have principles too and I’ll vote for him in a heartbeat. I don’t particularly like all of his legislative moves but his character, courage, love of country and selfless service are beyond reproach.

To not vote for him out of spite is nonsense and will do nothing but give the country to likes of Obama or Clinton.

rplat on April 3, 2008 at 5:52 PM

Now I REEEEEEEEALLY I hope he chooses Romney for VP….

Swinehound on April 3, 2008 at 5:56 PM

Old Abe Lincoln thought he didn’t need it either.

You don’t get a second chance.

Come on, man! Get the protection in place.

indythinker on April 3, 2008 at 5:56 PM

Just shows, the white man doesn’t need protection…but the black man still needs it and needs it sooner.
*
He will get it when he needs it, he may not be as scared of boogey men as some others.
*
We have a neighbor that won’t let her daughter ride around our neighborhood for fear something may happen to her 12 yr old girl…our neighborhood? A gated community, with remote access, wide open 1 acre lots, no fences, bridges, bike trails, all within view of your home, no outside people, nice homes…that is what the news reports do to you, make you silly with fear. Some of my neighbors have alarms…in the past several years, never a report of anything even stolen out of a garage.
Paranoid people, sucked in by the “film at 11″.
McCain will get it when he needs it, a couple of threats, a few weirdos, and he will get them. I have a feeling he can handle the ebay boys.

right2bright on April 3, 2008 at 5:57 PM

I have principles too and I’ll vote for him in a heartbeat. I don’t particularly like all of his legislative moves but his character, courage, love of country and selfless service are beyond reproach.

To not vote for him out of spite is nonsense and will do nothing but give the country to likes of Obama or Clinton.

rplat on April 3, 2008 at 5:52 PM

I don’t know where you lived lately, but McCain is no different than his Liberal friends Hillary Clinton and Hussein Ossama.

I don’t give a damn where he was in the past or what he did, at this point in time John McCain is a traitor.

Anyone who is willing to sell America to a foreign nation is a traitor.

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 6:00 PM

If Dick Durbin gets info that the Secret Service isn’t privy to as he did with Obama, then maybe McCain will get the protection…(true story)

The POTUS needs that protection. Yes, it is a pain, but a necessary one.

Pam on April 3, 2008 at 6:02 PM

I sincerely hope he rethinks his position on this. I won’t vote for him, ever, but he needs protection from all the loons out there. And yeah, for the record, I would protect him, even though I’m not voting for him or ANY liberal.

dogsoldier on April 3, 2008 at 6:04 PM

I said it before, McCain “clanks” when he walks. But not requesting Secret Service protection at this point is unwise.

Hog Wild on April 3, 2008 at 6:04 PM

There’s something rather fittingly symbolic in all that …

Professor Blather on April 3, 2008 at 6:04 PM

Foolish and arrogant.

Running for the position of or being a major world leader requires prudence.

onlineanalyst on April 3, 2008 at 6:05 PM

Time is a bigger threat to him.

LevStrauss on April 3, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Maybe so, but either way it makes his VP choice all the more relevent.

SouthernGent on April 3, 2008 at 6:06 PM

I don’t know where you lived lately, but McCain is no different than his Liberal friends Hillary Clinton and Hussein Ossama.

I don’t give a damn where he was in the past or what he did, at this point in time John McCain is a traitor.

Anyone who is willing to sell America to a foreign nation is a traitor.

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Why don’t you give it a rest? Or get some new material.

a capella on April 3, 2008 at 6:10 PM

I’m actually kind of with McCain on this, despite the terrorist threat.

What turned me really the collection of motorcycle police officers who have been killed providing police escort to the motorcade. This strikes me as a tremendous waste.

There is no reason that a presidential motorcade needs an army of police officers to escort it. And it is especially dangerous and wasteful to have the police run interference at intersections so the motorcade doesn’t have to stop. This basically places everyone else’s lives in danger so the president can have the tiniest sliver of extra security.

The harm of a president stopping at traffic lights is infinitesimally small. The police can block the sides, so no one can come up beside the limo, which would eliminate almost all threats that stopping would create.

Nessuno on April 3, 2008 at 6:11 PM

No time for being macho, take the protection man j- for our sakes. Hate to think of what would happen to this election if some nutjob got off a good shot and we ended up with Obama or Hillary. And I’m no McCain fan, but heaven help us if the terrorists start targeting him.

pecan pie on April 3, 2008 at 6:12 PM

Not having Secret Service protection does not equal having no protection at all. I’m sure he has a top-notch security detail. I suspect he’ll rethink the USSS if/when he is elected, if not sooner.

OTOH, I always felt Obama’s request for protection had less to do with any actual threat and more to do with a)legitimizing him as a serious candidate, and b) playing up the alleged danger to a prominent black man, as if he’s Dr. King.

doppelganglander on April 3, 2008 at 6:15 PM

McCain. Use protection. It works (no pun intended).

Darnell Clayton on April 3, 2008 at 6:20 PM

The harm of a president stopping at traffic lights is infinitesimally small. The police can block the sides, so no one can come up beside the limo, which would eliminate almost all threats that stopping would create.

Nessuno on April 3, 2008 at 6:11 PM

It isn’t just the traffic issue. The Secret Service usually does a previsit inspection of surrounding tall buildings, etc, with attention to line of sight and some type of bomb sweep, I’m sure. I don’t know how much of that a small detail can handle, and with the election shaping up the way it is, the rewards for a successful terrorist attempt against him would be quite high. I’d say in view of current events, he’s being a bit foolish, unless his detail is as efficient as the SS.

a capella on April 3, 2008 at 6:29 PM

McCain. Use protection. It works (no pun intended).

Darnell Clayton on April 3, 2008 at 6:20 PM

It works? Even at his age?

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 6:32 PM

Gun control olny works for the criminals addvantage, McCain has nothing to fear from the average American!

AMartinez on April 3, 2008 at 6:33 PM

Why don’t you give it a rest? Or get some new material.

a capella on April 3, 2008 at 6:10 PM

I’m trying. I had to answer the fella.

If my reply to him is annoying you, just close your eyes and quickly scroll down pass my post.

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 6:36 PM

I’d personally like to see USSS protection lifted on all former presidents/wives after a reasonable time. That stunt Bill Clinton pulled authorizing security for Chelsea for umpteen years before he left office was completely off base and the cost should have been borne by the Clintons.

McCain must have some kind of private security, he’s a prime target for every nutcase out there. Doppelganglander@6:15PM – you nailed it on Obama. Whatever the motive, it worked.

24K lady on April 3, 2008 at 6:36 PM

Franklin Roosevelt avoided assassination once as well — and all of these took place before we found ourselves at war with terrorist groups adept at suicide-style assassinations.

Unless there was another attempt on Roosevelt’s life, I presume Ed’s talking about the shots fired in Miami. Those were not intended to hit Roosevelt. The target was Anton Cermak, the Chicago Mayor trying to destroy the Outfit in Chicago. The Outfit was trying to rub out a pol that wouldn’t play ball. Hitting Cermak in Miami was by design. You don’t shit where you eat. Hitting Cermak in Chicago would have brought the Feds into the city to crack down on the Outfit.
Link

gabriel sutherland on April 3, 2008 at 6:42 PM

This makes the choice of vice-presidential candidate very important. Did you ever wonder why we put the presidential candidates through so much to win the nomination but then just say “ok, whoever” to the choice of running mate? This does not compute.

LaMonte on April 3, 2008 at 6:44 PM

I live near the White House and am often impeded by Secret Service security in the course of my daily life. President Bush’s protection is the most elaborate and heavy in history–which is sorta weird considering what an insurance policy he has. Nobody who planned to assassinate him would ever want Cheney as a replacement. However, it’s always been obvious that, however brave Bush has been politically, he’s a physical coward (so am I, so no disrespect)–remember when he wouldn’t go back in the White House after 911 until Laura phoned him from inside? (Now SHE’s an icon of mine!) So McCain’s courage is totally a breath of fresh air to me–in fact, I’d vote for him on that basis alone. In fairness to Obama, he is the first black candidate to come this close to a nomination, so I think his concern is justified. I’d like to also add that i am sick to death of all the commenters here who trash McCain. Go ahead and vote for Bob Barr or whatever–if Obama becomes president (and his would be the most murderously divisive presidency in history) it will be partly the fault of lame-brains like you. And he’ll rubber-stamp every single crazy bill the Democrat Congress can think of–and appoint Justices who will outlaw home schooling, the 2nd amendment, and a host of other stuff that ‘Juan’ McCain deeply respects. Bring the temple down on yourselves–and all the rest of us.

Hope P. Muntz on April 3, 2008 at 6:52 PM

I can’t decide if that is badass or foolish. A little of both. I think once elected he owes it to us to gain full protection.

Dr. Manhattan on April 3, 2008 at 6:56 PM

Can we trot out the cowboy canard yet? Or does that only work for presidents from Texa…. I mean Connecticut?

Seixon on April 3, 2008 at 6:57 PM

I think once he’s an actual nominee, the detail is automatic.

freevillage on April 3, 2008 at 7:00 PM

Brilliant security leak.

Great to have this knowledge public.

(The media idiotocracy is working normally, obviously.)

While this information would be best unmentioned in the first place, such a fateful decision should not be left in the candidate’s hands.

They are our representatives, and taking an unsecure stance smacks of the servant foolishly risking our investment.

Guard the guy …to at least keep the potential chaos down.

profitsbeard on April 3, 2008 at 7:02 PM

Now I REEEEEEEEALLY I hope he chooses Romney for VP….

Swinehound on April 3, 2008 at 5:56 PM

Took the words right out of my mouth! Still, now that it’s public, his wife or a staffer will likely point out to him that he needs it now more than ever.

inviolet on April 3, 2008 at 7:07 PM

it’s always been obvious that, however brave Bush has been politically, he’s a physical coward (so am I, so no disrespect)–remember when he wouldn’t go back in the White House after 911 until Laura phoned him from inside?

Never heard that story.

. In fairness to Obama, he is the first black candidate to come this close to a nomination, so I think his concern is justified.

From whom? Hillary? Al Sharpton types cause Obama ends the gravy train? White people in general?

And he’ll rubber-stamp every single crazy bill the Democrat Congress can think of–and appoint Justices who will outlaw home schooling, the 2nd amendment, and a host of other stuff that ‘Juan’ McCain deeply respects. Bring the temple down on yourselves–and all the rest of us.

Hope P. Muntz on April 3, 2008 at 6:52 PM

Agree with you here. But soon we’ll be able to say it in Spanish too.

JiangxiDad on April 3, 2008 at 7:08 PM

You are the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. The supporters of your opponent are near cult like. Get Secret Service protection!

SoulGlo on April 3, 2008 at 7:14 PM

Shhhhh!

Better not let Hussein Obama and his nation of islam buddies hear about this.

You know what they did to malcolm x when he converted to sunni islam.

SaintOlaf on April 3, 2008 at 7:24 PM

But guess what? McCain doesn’t oppose concealed carry. Funny, those who don’t want you to have it are the first to take it for themselves. Those who believe it’s your right, aren’t quite so concerned…

steadyrock on April 3, 2008 at 8:04 PM

I’m not so sure it’s the Secret Service that creates traffic problems and other messes every time a President goes somewhere. I have a feeling it’s the local cops.

Whenever the President comes to New York City, they usually shut down Broadway south of 54th street until Times Square, when the motorcade goes by. I’ve seen it several times in the past couple of years. The black vans and black trucks and limos which carry the President and the SS are less than half of it. Overwhelmingly, it is the LOCAL POLICE that take up a lot of the motorcade. And they LOVE IT. They come blazing down Broadway with their sirens blasting. At least 30-40 police cars and motorcycles.

I think it’s a macho cop thing, which is no surprise given the proliferation of SWAT teams in every small town in America. Cops are going overboard and I think that’s the cause of the problems. But people blame the Secret Service.

Sydney Carton on April 3, 2008 at 8:08 PM

Yo Maverick. Get some wingmen pronto. This is just stupid dude.

Sugar Land on April 3, 2008 at 8:14 PM

The world is not as dangerous as we think.

Look at Obama…he went to a gas station the other day.

tlynch001 on April 3, 2008 at 8:30 PM

He needs it now. That’s for sure.

Griz on April 3, 2008 at 8:35 PM

A guy that’s been through what McCain’s been through probably isn’t afraid of anything.

Gunhaver on April 3, 2008 at 8:36 PM

Anyone who is willing to sell America to a foreign nation is a traitor.

Indy Conservative on April 3, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Why don’t you give it a rest? Or get some new material.

a capella on April 3, 2008 at 6:10 PM

Man, you got that right. Indy, your schtick is getting tiresome.

Big John on April 3, 2008 at 9:06 PM

This is awesome. I can hear the clanging of McCain walking from here!

As for Bush being a coward – not another of the left wing talking points. He was following standard procedure for continuation of government – an intelligent thing to do when we had an unknown number of people who had already attacked one major DC installation and had tried to take out another. DOD broke out the end of the world plans that day, gave them a full workout, and they were fully justified in doing so.

I like the idea of reducing the security footprint, but it seems like too much of a risk. Overwatch, decoy convoys, secured routes, etc are pretty necessary. It’s the decoy convoys that really screw up traffic – they need to be fully secured as well to act as decoys, so it’s not just one route you close but 3… The deaths seem to be the result of motorcycle cops and adrenaline – people are doing cool stuff at speed on bikes, which is always dangerous. If the cops just dialed it back a little, they will be much safer, but it’s hard when you’re doing something so out of your normal day and are allowed to bend many of your normal rules.

libertarianuberalles on April 3, 2008 at 9:13 PM

He’s got a Blackwater detail. Cherry picked Sr. NCO operators with proven experience. Small, nimble, lethal, fewer resrictions.

Alden Pyle on April 3, 2008 at 9:21 PM

He’s got a Blackwater detail. Cherry picked Sr. NCO operators with proven experience. Small, nimble, lethal, fewer resrictions.

Alden Pyle on April 3, 2008 at 9:21 PM

Alden – back it up? If true, I’m impressed – and even better, it’ll make the libs go nuts.

gstevens97 on April 3, 2008 at 9:29 PM

No, Senator McCain probably has weapons at close hand (as in a valid conceal-carry permit) plus his own security detail of fellow right-wingers. I doubt seriously a warrior of warriors would have it any other way.

Left-wing pu-ss-ies using the Secret Service… I have no kind words for asking another man or woman, probably a parent themselves, to take a bullet aimed at you, for you – no matter how logical. We have a line of succession and we do for a reason.

HotAirJosef on April 3, 2008 at 9:31 PM

Nope. Mccain does not have a concealed carry permit.

The only presidential candidate who has one is Mike Huckabee.

SaintOlaf on April 3, 2008 at 9:39 PM

If I recall, Obama supposedly took early protection due to some specific threats.

It would be foolish for his own sake and for the country’s not to have maximum security available. And, it is also foolish for the media to print stories about the lack of security for the world to read.

CP on April 3, 2008 at 10:02 PM

Man, you got that right. Indy, your schtick is getting tiresome.

Big John on April 3, 2008 at 9:06 PM

I second that

People will not vote and let Osama win and complain how he is fouling everything up. Osama is trash and that’s what will be left if he gets his hands on the controls.

TroubledMonkey on April 3, 2008 at 10:10 PM

Rudy should offer some of his detail from his security company, if McCain refuses give it anyhow. ;)

Chakra Hammer on April 3, 2008 at 10:15 PM

I don’t know if it’s Blackwater he’s hired or not… but I’m sure he has security, just not Secret Service. The upside is that he can change his schedule on the fly if he wants to divert for a cheeseburger or something. As soon as the USSS takes over his personal security, that kind of spontaneity is over.

Besides, right now he’s not holding the kind of mass gatherings that the Democrats are… he’s not out fundraising, so he doesn’t have to. Keep the crowds small, the schedule close to the vest, and an eye out for wobbly figures in the back and front rows. It makes security a lot easier when you don’t have to share the schedule with hundreds of support people.

Mr Michael on April 3, 2008 at 11:06 PM

Wow, another example of guts, character, and substance. This guy should have been the 2000 nominee.

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 3, 2008 at 11:06 PM

Well let’s hope he picks a good VP!

Livefreeordie on April 3, 2008 at 11:10 PM

Did Robert Kennedy have protection when he was candidate?
Of course McCain does not feel the weight of duty yet, still…may be he is superman.

Monas on April 4, 2008 at 9:04 AM

This explains why McCain was in town a few days ago and I never even suspected seomthing was up until I heard about it on the radio.

infidel2 on April 4, 2008 at 9:39 AM

Not a smart move, IMO. Someone needs to remind him he’s not bulletproof, and preferably that reminder should not be in the form of a bullet.

Defense Guy on April 4, 2008 at 10:27 AM

He should then give his to Ayaan Hirsi Ali!

TheSitRep on April 4, 2008 at 11:06 AM