WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Joe Biden says that he's worried that protesters have stormed the stage when he's been speaking at campaign events with his wife beside him and that it might be time for Secret Service protection.
"Well, I think that's something that has to be considered, the more outrageous some of this becomes," Biden told NBC's "Today" show Thursday,
Two animal welfare protesters rushed the stage during Biden's Super Tuesday victory speech in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, waving anti-dairy signs and yelling. The first was escorted off the stage by a man, and the second was tackled by Biden's wife, Jill Biden, and one of his senior advisers, Symone Sanders.
The protesters got within a few feet of Biden, who was speaking after primary victories in several states propelled him into a two-man race for the Democratic presidential nomination with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"I wasn't scared for me, I was worried about for Jill," Biden said, recalling that she did the same thing at an event in New Hampshire when a man approached him from behind. When the man tried to interrupt him, Jill Biden put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away.
"That's what I worry about," Biden said. "I worry about Jill."
Biden isn't the only candidate to have been accosted at a campaign event. Topless demonstrators crashed a Bernie Sanders rally in Nevada two weeks ago. The breaches prompted an online outcry that the candidates be granted Secret Service protection. That demand was followed by a letter Wednesday from some House Democrats advocating more urgent action.
The Secret Service, by statute, protects the president, the vice president and their families as well as some other senior government officials. It is also authorized to protect major party presidential candidates, an authority granted after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
The leading candidates in 2012 and 2016 all had Secret Service protection at this point in those races. None of the 2020 Democratic candidates has Secret Service protection, or has asked for it.
"The idea of jumping on a stage is just not permissible," Biden said. "The last thing we need is anybody hurt."