Washington: Two protesters who rushed the stage during Joe Biden's remarks on Super Tuesday prompted a flurry of questions about whether the former vice-president has protection from the US Secret Service.
The answer is no.
As a former vice-president, Biden was entitled to Secret Service protection for up to six months after the date he left office. Though the Department of Homeland Security can extend that window, it did not do so in Biden's case.
Joe Biden, right, watches as his wife Jill Biden, centre, blocks a protester from arriving on stage in Los Angeles on Super Tuesday.Credit:Bloomberg
Biden was only a few words into his Super Tuesday speech when he suddenly had an unexpected visitor on the platform – a protester.
A woman tried to climb onto the stage when Biden's wife Jill blocked her. She was then grabbed by others and pulled down. As she was led away another woman jumped onto the stage and was quickly surrounded.
It was long enough, however, for the women to wave a sign just as Biden was launching into his remarks and while a battery of cameras was trained on him.
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond.
"Major" presidential and vice-presidential candidates automatically receive the protection within 120 days of the general election under the law. But in practice, many candidates receive it much earlier in the campaign cycle. The decision is not made by the Secret Service itself, but rather the [Department of Homeland Security] secretary, in consultation with congressional leaders.
DHS considers several factors when deciding which candidates will be covered, according to the US Secret Service website. Among the factors is whether the candidate is polling at 15 per cent or higher for at least 30 days. Campaigns have to request the protection, and sometimes they don't because it can make it more difficult to connect with voters.
Then-senator Barack Obama received his Secret Service detail in mid-2007, months before he won the 2008 Democratic nomination. The campaigns of Ben Carson and Donald Trump sought Secret Service protection in October 2015, according to news reports at the time.
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