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Friday, July 25, 2008

Secret Service Wants More Money For Protecting Presidential Candidates

EILEEN SULLIVAN | AP

WASHINGTON — 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 an historic year for the agency's campaign security job.

Among other things, the extra money would be used for the added costs for the candidates' international travel and a late-in-the-game decision by Barack Obama 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.

Presidential candidates are traveling overseas with Secret Service protection more than ever before.

Obama is on a six-day trip to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain. Before that he was on a three-day congressionally sponsored trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. Republican candidate John McCain has traveled to Canada, Colombia and Mexico under the agency's protection.

The 2008 presidential campaign cycle is the longest in Secret Service history by about five months. The Secret Service budgeted $106.65 million for the 2008 campaign cycle, compared to $73.3 million in 2004.

"I thought we had a very, very good plan in place for the campaign," Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week. "If past history was any type of an indicator, we anticipated picking up protection somewhere in January, February, March of 2008."

"But the campaigns are different now," Sullivan said.

Obama received Secret Service protection on May 3, 2007 _ the earliest the agency has ever stepped in to protect a candidate. Obama, who frequently draws crowds in the thousands at campaign stops, requested the protection. At the time, the Secret Service and Homeland Security officials said they were not aware of any threats to the senator.

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