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Secret Code Names of Presidential Candidates Revealed

Names sometimes, but not always, reflect candidates' personalities


As the front-runners for the GOP’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have been given Secret Service protection. With that protection comes a Secret Service code name, used as a throwback to when Secret Service communications were not encrypted, and secrecy about the president’s travels was crucial.

But what code names did Romney and Santorum pick? What code names have other presidential candidates — and presidents — used? Here are some of the more interesting ones — allegedly. The Secret Service refuses to absolutely confirm any of the code names supposedly used.

Javelin — Mitt Romney

Some have suggested this is a throwback to the AMC Javelin, a sports car manufactured by the company Mitt Romney’s father ran from 1954-1962, though the model wasn’t produced until five years after George Romney left American Motors Corporation.

Petrus — Rick Santorum

Petrus refers to Saint Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Given Santorum’s strong roots in the Catholic faith, this would appear to be a very conscious choice on his part.

Phoenix — John McCain

Does it refer to the mythical bird that dies and rises from its own ashes, reflecting McCain’s attempt to come back in 2008 after George W. Bush beat him for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000? Or does it refer to the capital and largest city of the state that McCain has served in the Senate for since 1986? Apparently, the answer is neither. The Secret Service selected the name at random, and McCain happened to like it.

Renegade — Barack Obama

Our current president was given this name in 2007. Whether or not he lives up to the moniker probably depends on whether you feel he has brought real change to Washington, D.C., or if he has become just another D.C. insider.

Trailblazer — George W. Bush

He probably preferred this code name to another one that was allegedly attached to him while in office: Tumbler.

For more information about Secret Service code names, check out this GQ article and this list of code names for various Secret Service protectees on Wikipedia.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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