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- First families get their Secret Service code names at the very beginning of a presidential campaign.
- Presidents get to choose from a list if they’d like, but first families don’t have much choice.
- Though the names are for security purposes, some stand out as particularly appropriate for the given president, first lady, or first child.
The White House Communications Agency assigns each member of the first family a code name for Secret Service agents to use during their time in the White House.
These names come from a list of agency-approved choices that either the president chooses from or agents pick. Other members of the family are then assigned names that share the same first letter. Sometimes, it’s the same letter as the family’s last name, but not always.
Though they’re meant to be secret, the code names quickly become public either through government filings, sources who leak them to news outlets, or when agents are overheard at public events. Since new technology has allowed security agents to monitor officials in a variety of ways, the names aren’t so top-secret anymore.
Here are some of the funniest, most ironic, and random code names used for past presidents, first ladies, and first children:
Eleanor Roosevelt: Rover
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The iconic first lady’s code name became official when she embarked on an October 1942 trip to England on the advice of her husband to "observe the women’s role in the war effort and visit American servicemen," according to the National Park Service. Her official handlers were known as "Rover’s Rangers."
John F. Kennedy: Lancer
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Though the Camelot legend of Kennedy’s dreamy life was reportedly invented by his wife after his death to put an idealistic spin on a relatively practical president who was plagued by personal drama and tragedy, Kennedy’s code name harkens back to Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s heroic Knights of the Round Table.
Jackie Kennedy: Lace
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The first lady Jackie Kennedy’s code was fitting for her image as one of the most elegant residents in the history of the White House, who wore lace for her high-profile wedding to the popular Sen. Kennedy and during events like a widely covered state visit to France.
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