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Candidates offered Secret Service protection

WASHINGTON -- Secret Service protection was made available to the last seven Democratic presidential candidates Saturday, 2 weeks ahead of schedule, the Treasury Department announced.

Treasury Secretary Donald Regan announced the protection, originally scheduled to the go into effect Feb. 1, was extended early to provide security at Sunday's debate among the eight candidates in Hanover, N.H.

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Of the eight, Jesse Jackson has had a Secret Service escort since November and Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., has decided to reject the protection for the time being.

Those offered the protection Saturday were former Vice President Walter Mondale, Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., Sen Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., and former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D.

McGovern began receiving the protection in Washington Saturday and Mondale and Askew will receive it starting Monday, spokesmen said.

Glenn will accept protection 'very soon, but we're not saying when,' a spokesman said. A Hollings spokesman declined comment and Hart's spokeswoman said no decision has been made.

President Reagan already receives protection by virtue of his office and there are no major other candidates for the Republican nomination.

The Secret Service has provided security to top presidential candidates since the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1968.

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Jackson, under a special ruling, started receiving protection in November following reported threats against his life. He was briefly without U.S. protection Jan. 2 when Syrian security agents refused to allow the Secret Service to accompany the candidate to a meeting with President Hafez Assad in Damascus.

Cranston spokesman Paul del Ponte said Cranston had temporarily rejected protection because it 'does separate the candidate from people when he's in an event.' He added that Cranson 'does anticipate having protection in the future. But we're not sure when.'

Regan and an advisory committee decide what candidates are eligible for the protection. The committee consists of House Speaker Thomas O'Neill, D-Mass.; House Republican leader Robert Michel, R-Ill.; Senate Republican leader Howard Baker, R-Tenn.,; Senate Democratic Leader Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.,; and William P. Rogers, a former attorney general and secretary of state.

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