Washington (CNN) – Presidential candidate Herman Cain will receive protection from the United States Secret Service, the agency confirms to CNN.
Cain asked for and is getting Secret Service protection because he has gotten an unspecified number of threats, sources inside the government told CNN on Friday.
Cain is the first Republican candidate in the 2012 election cycle to be placed under the protection of the federal law enforcement agency.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano authorized Cain's protection after consultation with an advisory committee that consists of congressional leadership.
Donovan told CNN that the Cain campaign requested coverage, and the review found that it met the criteria.
Cain Campaign Spokesman J.D. Gordon confirmed that the Secret Service is providing additional security for the candidate.
"We are appreciative of the extra level of protection provided by these elite professionals," Gordon said.
While early, it is not unprecedented for the Secret Service to take over the security of a presidential candidate. In May 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was running for the Democratic nomination, was placed under Secret Service protection. It was the earliest a candidate for president had received protection from this law enforcement agency. At the time, another Democratic candidate, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, was already under Secret Service protection because she was a former first lady.
Usually, the Secret Service begins protecting "major" candidates designated by an advisory committee, which consists of the congressional leadership, four months before the general election, according to guidelines outlined on the agency's website.
The Secret Service began protecting the president after President William McKinley was assassinated in the fall of 1901. The agency extended its protection to major presidential candidates following the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968.