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Secret Service needs more money to guard Obama and McCain

July 25, 2008 |  7:54 pm

As virtually every White House contender has done since the Republic began, this year's major-party presidential candidates each vow to cut "wasteful" government spending and in general impose "fiscal discipline" in Washington.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama campaigns in Missouri recently under the watchful eye of several Secret Service agents Yet here comes news that their very pursuit of the office is adding to the taxpayer's burden.

In a short item, the Associated Press reported that "the Secret Service has asked for an extra $9.5 million to cover unexpected costs of protecting the presidential candidates during what has turned into a historic year for the agency’s campaign security job."

According to the AP story, the service already had anticipated a strain on its pocketbook, budgeting $106.65 million for the 2008 campaign cycle, up from $73.3 million in 2004 (at the time, a record).

What the service didn't expect was an unusual amount of campaign-related travel by Barack Obama and John McCain outside U.S. boundaries.

Obama, of course, is wrapping up an extensive overseas trek, much of which he deemed campaign-related (his initial stops -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- were as part of an official congressional delegation). And McCain made political trips to Canada, Colombia and Mexico.

Also incurring additional costs for the Secret Service, the AP noted, is Obama's decision "to accept the Democratic nomination at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High -- an open-air, 76,000-seat stadium -- instead of the 20,000-seat Pepsi Center, which is the site of the party’s national convention."

The main reason for the significant jump in protective expenses -- even before the new request is tacked on -- stems from the length and the leading players in the fight for the Democratic nod.

Hillary Clinton entered the race in early 2007 already guarded because of her status as a former first lady. Obama, largely because of racially motivated threats against him, had agents assigned to him in May 2007. And then the two proceeded to battle until this June, with hardly any breaks from the campaign trail.

Although McCain emerged as the obvious Republican nominee in early February, he initially resisted protection, saying it would impinge upon the up-close-and-personal contact with voters that he craves. A security detail finally was assigned -- and accepted by him -- in early spring.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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