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Nikki Haley’s request for Secret Service protection one step away from final approal

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A group of top congressional leaders has recommended that Republican candidate Nikki Haley receive protection from the U.S. Secret Service after she reported a growing number of threats during her presidential campaign, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The committee of leaders voted in favor of granting the protective detail after considering the seriousness of the threats and reviewing national polling data, the person said.

The recommendation has been forwarded to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who will make the final decision. The Secret Service already has several standby security teams and the protective detail could be dispatched to protect the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador on the same day the authorization is approved, the person said.

The person was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the security plan and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The Secret Service is legally required to protect presidential and vice presidential candidates and their families 120 days out from a general election. However, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged in its 2024 budget overview that recent requests for candidate protection were coming in earlier than in the past.

Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump already receive such protection. It is also authorized for major party presidential candidates, an authority granted after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Haley, who hasn’t detailed the threats she says she’s faced, requested the protection earlier this month, telling The Wall Street Journal that there had been “multiple issues” related to security during her year-long campaign. There are often protesters at her campaign events, including a rally Thursday night in Dallas, during which more than 10 people were escorted from the venue after outbursts during her remarks.

Haley has also said her home on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, was targeted by a “swatting” hoax in December, one of two such incidents in recent weeks, according to police records.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month, Haley said that officers had “guns drawn” and pointed at her elderly parents and a caregiver in December, after police received a call about a suspected crime at the home. According to police reports, a caller “reported that he shot his girlfriend” at the home.

Haley described the incident as an “awful situation.” Neither she nor her adult son, Nalin, were home at the time. Haley’s husband is on a South Carolina Army National Guard deployment to Africa.

“It put the law enforcement officers in danger, it put my family in danger and, you know, it was not a safe situation,” Haley said of the incident.

Another call came on New Year’s Day, when law enforcement dispatch reported that a caller had said she “just shot her daughter and will shoot herself,” according to police records. Deputies arrived at the home and spoke with Haley, who said she had spoken with the chief of South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division, as well as the Charleston County sheriff.

Haley has for months traveled with personal security, who have become more visible at recent events, often flanking her just offstage as she speaks and greets supporters afterward.

Other candidates, including independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have requested Secret Service protection this election cycle and have been denied.

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Balsamo reported from Washington.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

Meg Kinnard And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press


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