Editors Note: Most of our understanding of Secret Service work comes from Hollywood. Few of us have never met a Secret Service Agent, or maybe you have and don’t know it. “Inside the Secret Service-A Former Agent’s Stories” is about life as a Secret Service agent. Our contributor is still a Federal Agent but with a different agency, therefore we have chosen not to reveal his name. These are real life experiences from a Concord resident who spent several years as a Secret Service agent. This is his story….
Campaign years are tough on Presidential Candidates and Agents alike. We are away from home at weeks on end, sometimes campaigning in 3 or 4 towns a day, then traveling most of the night, just to do it all over again the next day, next week, next month. The 1991 campaign was no different. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton who was the front runner for the Democratic Party. As such, he was granted full Secret Service protection 24/7. It was late at night and Governor Clinton was campaigning somewhere in the Deep South. A few hours earlier he had finished his final campaign stop for the day and now his motorcade made its way through the night destined for some hotel in some town still several hours away.
Somewhere along the way, the Governor had to make a pit stop. Luckily there happened to be a small airport ahead along the motorcade route. When the motorcade arrived at the airport, sheriff’s deputies were already in position and had an arrival area secured, as the motorcade had called ahead and notified local law enforcement of the unscheduled stop. The Governor Clinton and his detail departed the motorcade and made their way into the airport and down the main corridor to the restroom. Agent Rick was on point and entered the restroom ahead of the governor to ensure everything was clear. He then posted up outside the restroom door as Governor Clinton went inside. The remainder of the agents posted up at various locations along the corridor, ticket area, and airport entrance. Such is the protocol for unscheduled stops, regardless of the reason. Foot traffic was light within the airport at this time of night.
A young family of three were noticed walking down the corridor towards the restroom. They had come from the ticket counter and were now making their way to the airline gates. The father and mother appeared to be fairly young and were dressed in tattered clothing (it didn’t look like they had a dime to their name). And the child, he was young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, small, and appeared to be frail. It was hard to guess his age because the little guy, who was carrying a worn little brown suitcase, was bald. Presumably from chemotherapy treatments.
Just as the young family got close to the restroom, Governor Clinton stepped out. When he saw the little boy, he immediately approached him and said, “Hey, where you goin’?” The little boy, now smiling, shouted back, “Disneyland!” Clinton dropped to a knee so that he was now eye level with the little guy and said, “I’ve got a daughter who’s about your age and we just took her to Disneyland. She even got to meet Mickey Mouse. You gonna meet Mickey Mouse?” The frail but excited and smiling little guy shouted back, “Yeah, I’m gonna meet Mickey Mouse!” Clinton stood and said, “Alright, you have fun at Disneyland” and said good-by. The boy shouted back, “By!” The young family then proceeded down the corridor to their gate. Governor Clinton and the agents went down the corridor in the other direction, loaded into the motorcade and drove off into the night. On to another hotel in another town, somewhere.
I’ll bet to this day, that family has no Idea who that man was who spoke to their little boy. There was no press and no cameras following Clinton in the airport that night, and no political agenda.
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