Agent leaves Secret Service to run for U.S. Senate

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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His job was once to protect President Obama. Now he aspires to be a politician in his own right.

This former Secret Service agent, Daniel Bongino, retired in May so he could run as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland. He announced his candidacy this week.

In a phone interview with The Daily Caller, Bongino, 36, said he’s running because “we need real people… normal folks” to serve in office.

“I left everything behind to do this,” he said by phone. “I left a secure, promising 12-year career with the Secret Service. I left with a fantastic reputation. I left it all on the line, with my wife’s support, to do this.”

At the time of his retirement, Bongino was working in the Secret Service field office in Baltimore. He also worked on President George W. Bush’s detail, but said that doesn’t mean he has a cache of top-secret knowledge about Obama and Bush.

“It’s not that kind of a job. It’s called the Secret Service for a reason,” he said. “You’re not over their shoulder listening to their conversations. It’s just not that kind of environment. It doesn’t work like that.”

Bongino refused to criticize Obama directly — saying he’s focused on the seat’s incumbent, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. But he didn’t hide the fact that he doesn’t like the president’s political philosophy.

“The whole idea of the government being a backstop for the private economy when we’re in recession or near depression just hasn’t worked. The stimulus bill was a failure,” he said.

Asked about Cardin, Bongino said “he’s never seen a tax he doesn’t like…he’s a typical tax and spend liberal.”

Cardin defeated Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat in 2006. Bongino said he doesn’t buy the argument that a Republican can’t win in the heavily-Democratic Maryland.

“I don’t believe conservative ideas can’t win in Maryland,” he said. “Conservative ideas have won in Maryland. Reagan won Maryland.”

Bongino said he’s subscribes to “the Tea Party values of fiscal responsibility” and has attended several rallies, but wouldn’t go far enough to call himself a Tea Partier.

“My only hesitation is I’m running as a Republican, and it’s very easy to say, ‘oh, he’s the Tea Party candidate,’ and automatically, some people shut you out. They don’t want to listen,” he said.

Bongino said he grew up in a “very middle class” family which often ate bologna and cheerios for dinner. His wife grew up eating airplane peanuts because her mom cleaned planes to make money.

“So my family knows…the value of a dollar,” he said.

Bongino, who spent several days in Afghanistan advancing a presidential trip once, said he questions why the United States is keeping troops overseas in the Middle East. “What does success look like? Has anybody said that? Why are our boys still over there?”

He said running for office is “a recent phenomenon.” He decided to run after several weeks of contemplation with his wife.

“We sat down and we thought about it and we had that Rocky and Adrian moment from Rocky II when she’s in the coma and wakes up and tells him to win,” he said. “Well we had that moment and we decided, ‘Lets go for this. Lets put it on the line. Lets put our money where our mouth is and lets do it.”