Rick Santorum in Discussions to Receive Secret Service Protection

Feb 15, 2012 1:59am

BOISE, Idaho—Rick Santorum said Tuesday evening “for the sake” of his family he is in talks to possibly acquire Secret Service protection.

“We are talking about that right now,” Santorum told reporters before referring to events that transpired Monday evening. “It’s unfortunate that we are in that situation where folks can get a little rowdy and sometimes a little violent and so it’s sort of a sad state of affairs. I’ve been driving around most of this campaign in a truck with one other person, but we are in a different phase and obviously just for the sake of my family that we have to consider so we are in that discussion right now.”

On Monday night a rally in Tacoma, Washington got rowdy when about a dozen Occupy Tacoma protesters tried to shout over the candidate. The protesters got into a scuffle with Santorum supporters and Tacoma Police dragged out and cuffed two of the Occupiers, but left the rest of the group there alone as they continued to try and over shout Santorum.

After the event, another protester was arrested after she directly glitter bombed Santorum — an act typically motivated by the targets’ opposition to same-sex marriage. It was at least the sixth time Santorum has been doused with glitter at an event, but Monday evening was probably the most direct hit.

Protocol for a candidate to receive Secret Service protection is that the campaign must first make a formal request with the Department of Homeland Security — unless there is a specific threat — then the request goes to Senate leadership and the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who reviews the request and makes a decision whether to offer the protection or not.

Mitt Romney received Secret Service protection two weeks ago. Santorum currently employs private security.

The event in Boise turned out a large crowd of 1,300 that filled the high school’s auditorium plus an overflow room in the school gym. That crowd of almost 1,000 watched the event on a screen and got to shake hands with the candidate when he came by afterwards.

It was a startling change from 24 hours prior, when the protesters were chanting “We are the 99 percent,” interrupting the former Pennsylvania senator as tried to make his pitch to Washington voters. In Boise, he was interrupted as well, but this time by at least five standing ovations by the enthusiastic crowd who applauded everything from Santorum’s pledge to cut the deficit to his commitment to freedom.

Santorum hardly mentioned his GOP rivals, although he said the nominee should “not be the best manager of America or the best think tank, but a leader who paints the best vision,” clearly trying to distinguish himself from Romney and Newt Gingrich.

“Go out in a few weeks and speak loudly and strongly that you want someone who reflects your values,” Santorum said while giving his final pitch to Idaho voters who will caucus on Super Tuesday. One woman shouted, “We’ll be there!”

“Not just reflects them, but feels them in their heart, doesn’t have to read it on a teleprompter. You go out and give us a big win here in Idaho, get us those delegates,” Santorum said, dinging President Obama. “You can have a huge impact on March 6th.”

The Santorum campaign began running two television ads in Mitt Romney’s home state of Michigan Monday, and he will campaign in the state Thursday.

He said he doesn’t want to “get carried away,” but thinks “we can do well in Michigan.”

“We think it works from the stand point of the kind of state I’m used to running, Pennsylvania and Michigan have a lot of similarities and we think we can plant our flag there and do well and hopefully finish a strong second in Arizona,” Santorum told reporters. “We are running ads there too. We hope to do well there also.”

ABC News’ Jason Ryan contributed to this report

* An earlier version of this report said that protocol to get Secret Service protection goes through the Secret Service. It actually goes through the Department of Homeland Security and the story has been updated to reflect that.

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