Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. revealed Friday that his campaign is not getting Secret Service protection despite “unique and well-established security risks.”
Kennedy posted on X — formerly Twitter — that ever since his father was assassinated on the campaign trail in California in 1968, presidential candidates have received this federal protection. “But not me.”
He noted that the Department of Homeland Security ignored his inquiry for 88 days. That is far beyond the typical 14-day turnaround for Secret Service requests from candidates.
It took several follow-ups with embattled DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas before a response came. The agency head declared his determination that providing a Secret Service detail for RFK Jr. “is not warranted at this time.”
Secret Service guidance issued in 2020 gave latitude to the Homeland Security secretary to decide if candidates are to receive the protection. The agency head is supposed to consult an advisory committee of House and Senate leaders.
Not only is there a dual system of justice, now we have a dual system of protection.
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) July 28, 2023
DHS also must conduct a “specific assessment of threats” faced by the candidate.
The guidance authorized protection for “major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses.” This is generally awarded within 120 days of the general election.
For a presidential candidate to be considered “major,” they must have averaged 15% or more support in established national polls for over 30 consecutive days.
Polling organization FiveThirtyEight most recently had the president pulling down 65.1% of his party’s primary vote with RFK Jr. running at 14.9%. NBC News reported, however, that the DHS secretary has “wide latitude in determining who receives protection.”
Additionally, the outlet quoted Biden in 2020 saying that major presidential candidates should be protected earlier in the campaigning period. Former President Donald Trump was given Secret Service protection a year before the 2016 election.
Then-GOP candidate Ben Carson was also awarded a detail before the Iowa caucuses.
RFK Jr.’s father’s assassination followed by just five years the shooting death of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963.
The challenger to the incumbent has made impressive inroads within the Democratic Party and drawn admiration from several Republicans for his forthright style. GOP frontrunner Trump recently called the Democrat a “very smart person.”
Author Marianne Williamson is also running for the Democratic nomination against Biden.