When Does the Secret Service Stop Protecting a Defeated Presidential Candidate?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Nov. 7 2012 3:07 PM

You’re on Your Own, Javelin

When will the Secret Service stop protecting Mitt Romney?

151960959
Mitt Romney asks Secret Service agents for a hankerchief to wipe his face as he greets supporters on Sept. 13, 2012

Photograph by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/GettyImages.

Barack Obama’s win in Tuesday’s election means that Mitt Romney (whose Secret Service code name is Javelin) will no longer be entitled to government bodyguards. How long does the Secret Service continue to protect the losing candidate after a presidential election?

Advertisement

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 limited in its mandate in part because the protection it provides is so expensive. By some estimates, it costs the government around $40,000 per day to ensure the safety of a presidential candidate, and the Secret Service budgeted $113 million to protect candidates in 2012. The expense became an issue earlier this year when Newt Gingrich continued to travel with a Secret Service detail long after he stopped actively campaigning. Candidates are entitled to decline protection. Deficit hawk Ron Paul has refused a Secret Service detail.

Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer.

Brian Palmer writes about science, medicine, and the environment for Slate and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Email him at explainerbrian@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 10:41 AM Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With 8 Seconds of Static 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.