Obama candidacy quickest to seek bodyguards
WASHINGTON » Democratic Sen. Barack Obama was placed under Secret Service protection, the earliest ever for a presidential candidate, the agency said yesterday.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff authorized Obama's protection after consultations with the bipartisan congressional advisory panel, according to Chertoff spokesman Russ Knocke and the Secret Service.
The Hawaii-born Obama, D-Ill., who frequently draws crowds in the thousands at campaign stops, requested the protection. Secret Service and Homeland Security officials said they were not aware of any threats to the senator.
According to a senior law enforcement official, the security detail was prompted by general concerns about the safety of a prominent black candidate. Although there was no direct threat to Obama, several factors raised concerns, including some racist chatter on white supremacist Web sites.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., also a presidential candidate, has a Secret Service detail that is provided to all former first ladies.