After an incident at a recent campaign event, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has reignited the discussion about his security. Kennedy, a strong supporter of many causes, is now requesting Secret Service security because he believes there are dangers to his personal safety. Discussions regarding the requirements for providing such security, the changing nature of the threat landscape, and the current political dynamics have been sparked by this request.
The Latest Event
The incident at one of Kennedy’s campaign events with an armed person who was suspected of impersonating a police officer prompted the request for Secret Service protection. A man by the name of Adrian Paul Aispuro was taken into custody during one of Kennedy’s remarks on Hispanic Heritage Month, according to Kennedy’s campaign. It was said that Aispuro had two handguns and a phony badge identifying him as a U.S. Marshal. Aispuro was charged with carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a hidden weapon, and impersonating an official, but no felonies were brought.
Aispuro was detained by Kennedy’s private security team, which was supplied by Gavin de Becker and Associates. This incident underscores the significance of private security in political campaigns.
The Family History of Kennedy
Kennedy’s family history includes the assassinations of his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and uncle, President John F. Kennedy, which is the basis for the demand for Secret Service security. The campaign emphasizes Kennedy’s family’s terrible past while focusing on the increasing security concerns he confronts.
In his speech to President Joe Biden, Kennedy’s campaign manager Dennis Kucinich emphasized the historical background, saying, “Mr. Kennedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was slain. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the father of Mr. Kennedy, was slain during his presidential campaign.” This emphasizes the special security issues related to Kennedy’s campaign.
The Environment of Politics and Security
Usually, the Secretary of Homeland Security makes the choice to offer Secret Service security after consulting with an advisory group that is largely made up of legislative leaders. The purpose of this procedure is to evaluate the security threats and ascertain if a candidate is eligible for this kind of protection.
In the past, candidates who won their party’s nomination were granted protection by the Secret Service; but, in more recent election cycles, requests for candidate protection have been made earlier. The 2024 election cycle takes place in a security environment marked by increased tensions, which adds complexity to these choices.
For candidate protection in 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked for an unprecedented $209 million. This highlights the high expense of securing presidential candidates and involves resources like advance teams, intelligence specialists, explosive threat teams, and shift agents available around-the-clock.
Kennedy’s Plea and Its Political Aspects
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas turned down Kennedy’s first request for Secret Service protection, citing the bipartisan congressional advisory committee’s advice in his decision. Kennedy’s campaign claimed that he qualified for protection by aggressively campaigning around the country and polling over a particular level.
Still, it’s unclear if he still fits the bill given that his Real Clear Politics polling average dropped below the necessary 15%. The campaign argues that Kennedy’s family background and the current state of threats make the request for Secret Service protection warranted.
This issue has a political component that should not be disregarded. As a result of Senator Ted Cruz and other Republicans accusing President Biden of withholding protection because of political considerations, Kennedy’s request has become contentious. Law enforcement experts, however, stress that politics is not taken into consideration when deciding whether to provide Secret Service security.