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Former Secret Service Agent Talks Inauguration Safety

Dan Bongino spoke with Patch about what it was like to walk next to the president during the 2009 inauguration.

When President Barack Obama first walked from the U.S. Capitol to the White House for the 56th Presidential Inaugural Parade in January 2009, Severna Park resident Dan Bongino was at his side.

"It is anxiety inducing to the extent that’s really hard to explain to folks," Bongino said. "I was the guy responsible for the parade route portion for a good chunk of it where he got out and started waving to the crowd."

The former Secret Service agent said preparations for the 2013 inauguration started shortly after the 2009 inauguration wrapped up.

"You're securing a quadrant of Washington, DC, to the same level of security that you’re securing the second floor of the White House," Bongino said. "It’s an enormous endeavor."

He said his biggest challenge for him or any long-term Secret Service agent was to remain vigilent throughout the walk.

"The best analogy is riding a motorcycle or handling weapons," Bongino said. "They only become dangerous when you lose respect for it."

Bongino left his job with the Secret Service in 2010 to launch a political campaign for one of Maryland's U.S. Senate seats. A campaign he lost to Sen. Ben Cardin in November.

This year he will watch the inauguration as a spectator and commentor on CNN.

Obama will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 21 on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and the parade will start at 2:30 p.m.

Bongino said one of the nice things about watching the inauguration is he'll get to sleep in. In 2009, his day started at 2 a.m.

"There was no parking down there—even for a Secret Service agent—and my wife was a trooper and agreed to get up at midnight ... and drop me off," Bongino said. "My night did not end until 11 p.m. ... It’s probably the longest day I ever spent."

The other thing he won't miss is the cold weather.

"You can’t make a business suit warm," Bongino said. "You have to look professional too. I just froze."

When Obama took office in 2009, the temperature in Washington was 30 degrees. This time around, the temperature is predicted to be 38 degrees, according to Weather.com.

Despite the cold, the anxiety and the long day, Bongino said he felt proud and honored to serve as part of the security detail in 2009. It offered him a unique view of the inauguration and of the presidency itself.

As to whether he has any future plans of having his own security detail, Bongino said he's still deciding on whether he plans to run for Maryland's governorship or Anne Arundel County Executive.

Bongino said he's likely to make an announcement sometime in late February or early March.

Marilyn Hendley January 19, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Thank you for all of your hard work with the Secret Service. I'm a real estate agent to many Secret Service Agents and I have to say that you are one of the hardest working people out there! Not only are you hard working, but this group of men and women are some of the kindest and caring people I've ever met and am proud to not only work with them, but to call them my friends.. By the way, in this photo, you are standing opposite one of my favorite Secret Service Agents. I'm proud to call him and his family, not only my clients but most importantly, my friends. I'm proud to back you in your future endeavors. In addition, I voted for you and attended the Romney/Ryan party on election night and enjoyed your speech very much.
LevelheadedOne January 19, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Dan Bongino, great man. Thank you for your service to our country. Please run for governor, our state needs you and your vision. I'll vote for you again.
Kathleen Smero January 19, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Dan - Congratulations on a great career in the Secret Service and your dedication to law enforcement. But, I am glad we have you in the private sector now working with us. Looking forward to working with you on your next endeavor !
Sharon Dryfus January 20, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Another politician want-to-be trying to keep himself relevant!
Michael Rappell January 20, 2013 at 05:55 AM
Dan may have made a good secret service agent, but not such a good businessman. Im not convinced he is best to run our county or our state.
Jordon Raymond January 20, 2013 at 06:02 AM
Why would Dan think he can win another campaign race when he lost his last one with less than 1/3 of the vote? He needs a reality check and a new job.
LevelheadedOne January 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Many races are won by a small margin. This field of competition had 3 competitors. One conservative, one liberal who's been in office for too long and one newbie who jumped in at the end and wasn't really vetted by the media. So, no real surprise there as to how he lost. If it were a two candidate race, he would have won easily. If people actually took the time to learn about the candidates our county/country would be in better condition. Don't discount Bongino. He's worth a second look.
Amy Leahy January 21, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Sharon, Dan is relevant. A lot more so than "My friend Ben".
Jordon Raymond January 22, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Adding Sobhani's numbers to Bongino --- you still get a huge loss. Republicans need not waste their limited money on proven losers. We need winners to take the helm!

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