SEVERNA PARK, Md. - For five years, in 27 countries, for two U.S. Presidents, Dan Bongino was the man behind the scenes prepared to take a bullet. But he's leaving behind that time in the Secret Service, hoping to secure something else - a job in the U.S. Senate. ABC2 News Joce Sterman sat down with Bongino for his first local TV interview.
For years, Dan Bongino made a living being invisible. He was a face in the background, overshadowed by the most powerful man in the world, President Barack Obama. Bongino says, "I have enormous respect for him. I just completely disagree with his ideology."
But as a Secret Service agent, it was Bongino's job to keep his eyes open and his mouth shut, so he never said a word, until now. He tells ABC2, "I think you reach a level of frustration when you're sitting on the sidelines but you actively follow politics. Sooner or later you have to get on the field and you have to throw a pass."
And with this one, Bongino is going deep, going after Maryland incumbent Ben Cardin's Senate seat. Last month, he put his Secret Service badge behind glass and began looking at the future, hoping his experiences around the world can shake up what he calls the politics-as-usual Washington he watched as an agent. Bongino explains, "It is a high stress, high performance job that does not tolerate fools and does not tolerate failure."
For Bongino, failure with this race isn't an option either, although the odds are tough. In a very democratic state, this former New Yorker is running on conservative Republican ideas, although he doesn't want to be labeled, especially as a carpetbagger. Bongino says, "This is my home, for good."
And it's a home he's packed with souvenirs from his life as an agent. He proudly displays pictures with both Presidents Bush and Obama, men he put his life on the line to protect. Although he's not expecting any endorsements in return. Bongino jokes, "I think that would be an incredible long shot from any sitting president for obvious reasons."
They're reasons he understands from politicians he respects and hopes to follow in the future. But he won't stand in their shadows. Instead, he'll be stepping into the spotlight himself.