WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Secret Service has started to protect the presidential campaigns of Republicans Ben Carson and Donald Trump, the Homeland Security Department said Thursday.
The department said Secretary Jeh Johnson authorized Secret Service agents to work on protective details for the two leading Republican presidential candidates.
Both requested protection last month. Johnson approved the requests after consulting with five members of Congress, as required by law.
The presence of Secret Service agents can elevate the perception of a campaign's legitimacy. Carson and Trump have been leading the GOP nomination fight one year ahead of the 2016 election.
Secret Service protection is generally afforded to candidates for president and vice president 120 days before an election. But past candidates, including President Barack Obama, have been assigned protection far earlier in their campaigns.
Until now, the billionaire Trump has been paying for his own security. Trump's most recent campaign finance filing shows that he has been spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on security, and he is rarely seen without body guards in public.
He has said that he sometimes carries a concealed handgun.
Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed to this report.