Politics

Joe Biden gets Secret Service detail as he closes in on the 2020 Democratic nomination

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Key Points
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has been assigned Secret Service to tail him as his 2020 bid for president ramps up, NBC News learned. 
  • Discussion of Biden's protection arose earlier this month, when a protester stormed on stage where he was delivering a victory speech.
  • On the campaign trail, BIden's Secret Service code name will be "Celtic," CNN reported, the same as when he was vice president.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, right, watches as his wife Jill Biden, center, blocks a protester from arriving on stage during an primary night rally in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been assigned Secret Service to tail him as his 2020 bid for president ramps up, according to the Secret Service. 

"The U.S. Secret Service can confirm that we have initiated full protective coverage for Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Vice President Joseph Biden," a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement to CNBC.

Biden's campaign submitted a formal request for protection from the Secret Service last week.

Senior congressional officials consult with Homeland Security to determine whether a request for Secret Service from candidates is warranted. Presidential candidates, especially as November nears, begin to gain attention, sometimes putting them at greater risk of danger.

The request for Secret Service comes even as Biden said he will largely stay off the campaign trail, adhering to warnings from officials about "social distancing" to combat the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which has killed thousands of people globally. 

Biden was assigned Secret Service during his tenure in former President Barack Obama's administration. 

On the campaign trail, Biden's Secret Service code name will be "Celtic," CNN reported, the same as when he was vice president.

Discussion of Biden's protection arose after earlier this month, when an anti-dairy protester stormed on stage where the candidate was delivering a victory speech. Biden's wife, Jill, blocked the protester from getting near her husband, using her arms to hold her back. 

The incident was a "wake-up call" for Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, his chief rival in the Democratic nomination, former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow told NPR.

Sanders' campaign rallies have also experienced situations that could have escalated to dangerous levels.

On March 5, as the Vermont senator was delivering a speech in Arizona, a man in the crowd stood up and held up over his head a red flag bearing a swastika. Sanders, if he were to secure the Democratic nomination and win the election in November, would be the first Jewish president. 

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return a request for comment asking if the Sanders campaign submitted a request for Secret Service.

Biden and Sanders have emerged from a crowded field of Democrats as the front-runners vying for the chance to take on President Donald Trump in November.

Several rounds of state primaries gave Biden a boost just as his campaign looked like it was collapsing. Biden maintains a solid lead over Sanders, having earned 871 delegates so far, compared with Sanders' 719. To claim victory as the Democratic nominee, a candidate must secure 1,991 delegates. 

Biden is favored in primaries Tuesday in Arizona, Florida and Illinois. Tuesday's Ohio primary was recommended to be postponed on Monday night by the governor because of the coronavirus pandemic.