Former Secret Service agent becomes political challenger
June 7th, 2011
05:33 PM ET
12 years ago

Former Secret Service agent becomes political challenger

Washington (CNN)- Not long ago, he was willing to give his life to protect President Barack Obama, as a Secret Service agent on the presidential protection detail. But last month, Daniel Bongino quit his job as an agent ready to take a bullet for the president, to become a potential political adversary.

Bongino announced last week he is running for the Republican nomination in next year's Senate race in Maryland.

"I have no personal gripes with the president – I actually respect him greatly," said Bongino. "He treated me with dignity and respect, and he's a wonderful man, his family was great to me."
"But I just disagree with the ideology," he said. "The country's going on the wrong path."

Bongino says he is especially concerned about the mounting government debt and the tax burden, and criticized Pres. Obama's handling of the economy. "We've got to get government out of the way. They're standing in the way of the American entrepreneur." He says he believes in the tea party and what they're doing.

If Bongino were to win the Republican nomination, he would become the challenger to incumbent Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat in a state that has not had a Republican senator since 1987.

Well-spoken, poised, and youthful at age 36, Bongino has no policy experience, but says he has earned a masters in psychology as well as an MBA. "I've done an enormous amount of research on macro-economic policy," he said.

"Thank God I have no political experience. That's my badge of honor," he says. "What does that mean? Is it the ability to cut a deal? I don't want that."

He said his most important qualification for serving in Congress would be the leadership skills he learned in the Secret Service, and prior to that in the New York Police Department. He says his experience as a beat cop in Brooklyn's toughest neighborhoods turned him into a Republican. Seeing several liberal social programs that were well-intended - but which, he says, didn't work for the people who needed them most - tipped the political scales for him.

Bongino said protecting presidents Obama and Bush as an agent did not made him privy to political dealings or policymaking behind closed doors – and that if it had, it would be unethical for an agent to disclose or use to his advantage anything he had witnessed.

Contacted by CNN, the Secret Service declined to comment on Bongino's candidacy.

We asked Bongino about the personal toll he's seen politics take on families, as an insider at the White House. When we asked why he'd drag his family through this, he said "It was a tough decision. A really tough decision. My wife and I thought about this for a very long time. I had never thought about jumping into politics, but I had always followed the issues. And when I left the job we said 'We're gonna take a week. And we're going to calmly think about this.' And she was willing to get in with me. She really was. We had that 'Rocky-Adrian' moment, in 'Rocky II'– when Adrian wakes up from the coma and tells him to 'win'."

Filed under: Maryland • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Brian

    This seems like kinda a big story and really speaks volumes about the character of obama; that a man trusted to give his life to protect him thought that he wasn't worth the trouble

    June 7, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. MAC

    It will be great to have someone of Integrity from Maryland in the Senate. Being in the Secrt Service is one of just a few where you are trained to have integrity unlike most colleges and other jobs. He is right that the budget and spending are out of control.

    June 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Kevin Cantu

    Excuse me Bro. I hate to break it to you. but the minute you decided to run for automatically become a you can give it a rest.

    June 7, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Brian: This speaks to the ambition of this guy that he's willing to sell his soul to get on the gravy train we call the Senate.

    If he's so worried about our country's fiscal house, then he should demand that corporations and the wealthy start paying their fair share. They utilize our infrastructure – they should help pay for it.

    I'm tired of coddling the rich, bankrolling their global expansion at the expense of my country and my people. If they can't be satisfied with their millions and billions of dollars, that's not my fault.

    The – the wealthy – need to live within their means and stop FEEDING AT THE PUBLIC TROUGH!

    June 7, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Nick

    He seems like a very respectable person, i believe he will shake it up a bit

    June 7, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. bobden

    If he was trained to have integrity, he must have failed the course.

    June 7, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Oops! My copy-paste grabbed more than I expected. CNN, here's what I meant to say:

    Brian, why don't you try actually reading what this guy said about the President; no where does he imply President Obama isn't "worth the trouble."

    "I have no personal gripes with the president – I actually respect him greatly," said Bongino. "He treated me with dignity and respect, and he's a wonderful man, his family was great to me."

    June 7, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  8. acura2010

    OMG! Big government is all these folks running on! Again, none of these jaw swiping blew a head gasket the past eight years Bush extended the economic disaster. This was a bad seed planted by Ronald Reagan and the harvest became rotten.

    June 7, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Jonathan Davis

    When did the ability to make deals become a bad thing? There are 435 Congressmen and 100 Senators. All of whom will have seniority over you. And everyone of them will have their point of view. Their constituents to please. If you can't or won't make deals then you are useless. You might not like the system, but you either work it or sit on the sidelines.

    June 7, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Kenneth

    Editorial note: "did not made him privy..." should be had. 🙂

    I'm rather excited over this. Very interesting story indeed.

    June 7, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. allen

    How exactly is the government "standing in the way of the American entrepreneur"? I'm curious...because from what I can tell the corporate tax rates are the lowest they've ever been and we had 8 years of Bush's crack economic policy that was supposed to make everyone millionaires. This guy shouldn't have quit his day job, but I'll give him points for at least being class in his comments about the President. A very rare trait among know, the ones with all the reverence for US history and tradition.

    June 7, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. Mtnjim

    "that a man trusted to give his life to protect him thought that he wasn't worth the trouble"

    That's NOT what he said, did you even read the article??

    He said:" "I have no personal gripes with the president – I actually respect him greatly," said Bongino. "He treated me with dignity and respect, and he's a wonderful man, his family was great to me." ", a direct quote.

    June 7, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. kayla

    well, don't forget, rocky is a movie.

    June 7, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Kwesoe

    And here we go again! Another GOP mole looking for opportunity. See you in 2012. Hope there is still unemployment insurance so you can join the line. Otherwise, the mob is hiring too.

    June 7, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. concerned liberal

    @ kevin "the minute you decided to run for office....."
    He became a politician but this is very different from most including Obama who have made a career out of politics.
    I would like to see more non-politicians suddenly run for office out of conviction rather than by career.

    June 7, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  16. T'sah from Virginia

    Just a man running for office and will be another politician..............PERIOD!!!

    June 7, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Rachid

    @ Brian – It speaks volumes about Obama's character? Nice try – Did you even read the article? Bongino went out of his way to say he respected the President.

    "I have no personal gripes with the president – I actually respect him greatly," said Bongino. "He treated me with dignity and respect, and he's a wonderful man, his family was great to me."
    "But I just disagree with the ideology," he said.

    June 7, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. Jess C

    Government "gets in the way" eh? Yes, those pesky environmental controls, for example? Most of us hate the idea of insisting that we have clean air and water, right? And is this guy suggesting that we should deregulate the banking/mortgage industries again because that worked so well before? Keep government out of regulating food quality? I say add more government regulations to get pesticides out of our food. What a joke this is! I do agree with one thing, however, government should stay out of our personal lives. Funny, the GOP is all for government control when it comes to a women's right to choose, which is none of their business. This guy is just more of the same GOP/TP crappola.

    June 7, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  19. C. Howe Yulikit

    He seems as qualified as any other Republican candidate, which is to say "not at all"

    June 7, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  20. Luke Brown

    Just what we need .. one more no-nothing Republican in Congress who doesn't have a clue beyond his talking points of the day.

    June 7, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Jack V

    So he wants to leave one public payroll job for another? Besides there's a major typo in this story!!

    June 7, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. Kenny K

    Politics has become laying out dirty laundries in open. I hope he is ready for all his life to be explored.

    June 7, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. w l jones

    Sorry but you should be unsatisfied the way the Senate and Congress running the country the president commander of the Armforce and spoke person for country.bless

    June 7, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. CaliforniaBC

    Well gee...looks like someone isn't paying attention...well not to the facts. Tax burden?? WHAT?? Dude Obama has given out a ton of tax breaks and cuts to small business and the middle class. Where is this tax burden you're talking about???

    June 7, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    Integrity? First of all he IS a rethug. There's goes all credibility. Second, I know FBI agens who when asked which party they belong to always answer with who is president now?
    A whole week to think about this most important deicison and now he thinks he is a rocky of sorts. What a joke he is already.
    We are talking Maryland here. Good luck winning anything in my state. He has 0 chance of beating Cardin for the senate. He should go find himself a job where he doesn't bad mouth his superiors after he quits. Besides no integrity he has no character. Then again . . . . . he IS a rethug!

    June 7, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |