Since Harry Truman's presidency, the White House Communications Agency, in conjunction with the White House and the Secret Service, has issued secret code names to prominent political figures and their families for their protection. President Barack Obama has long gone by the name "Renegade," whereas his opponent Mitt Romney chose "Javelin."
Thanks to encrypted communications technologies, code names don't have to be secret any longer. They're used now mainly for brevity, and because they're so fun.
Public servants under Secret Service protection are allowed to weigh in on their name choices, and some choose names that reflect their interests or backgrounds (as with Ryan). In keeping with tradition, families are usually assigned names that begin with the same letter. (Michelle Obama is known as "Renaissance," Sasha as "Rosebud" and Malia as "Radiance.")
Though some code names seem pretty obvious (Harry Truman went by "General"), others might raise an eyebrow. Here's a look at Secret Service code names of years gone by:
Ronald Reagan -- Rawhide
"Rawhide" referred to the late president's love of horses and Western films.
George H. W. Bush -- Timberwolf
Karenna Gore -- Smurfette
Al Gore's daughter, Karenna, was 19 years old when she chose her own nickname, a decision she later regretted.
"Ever since four years ago, when I was put on the spot and told 'two syllables' and 'It has to start with an s,' I have been cringing in the back seat when identified as 'Smurfette'," Gore wrote in 1997.
Todd Palin -- Driller
The husband of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (a.k.a. Denali), Todd Palin's code name was a nod to his previous work as an oil slope worker.
Lyndon Johnson -- Volunteer
Dick Cheney -- Angler
Former Vice President Cheney loved to fish.
Betty Ford -- Pinafore
Chelsea Clinton -- Energy
Jenna Bush -- Twinkle
Meghan McCain -- Peter Sellers
When father John McCain ran for president in 2008, Meghan went by Peter Sellers, after the popular British comedian and actor.
Ted Kennedy -- Sunburn