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Secret Service code names for Romney and Santorum revealed: Javelin and Petrus

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Romney's Secret Service detail in Peoria, Illinois (Steven Senne/AP)

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, were recently granted Secret Service protection. And like all candidates, they were also granted code names by the agency.

Romney chose "Javelin," according to GQ magazine. Santorum went with "Petrus," a biblical reference to St. Peter.

"Javelin," the magazine notes, could refer to a vintage muscle car manufactured by American Motors Corporation, where Romney's father, George, was once chairman.

"Alternatively," Kathleen Parker wrote in the Washington Post, "the code name could refer to the track-and-field event and evoke the Olympics, which Romney famously guided from red to black ink.

"The javelin otherwise is no wimp's weapon, if one were inclined to embrace its utilitarian value, and dates back to Paleolithic times," Parker added. "Whichever the case, Romney's self-image is clearly tied to a successful business model, with a hint of Olympian physicality and a symbolic representation of strength, speed and purpose."

Newt Gingrich was also granted secret service protection earlier this month, though his code name has not been revealed.

"The use of code words to refer to candidates are a throwback to the era when Secret Service and White House Communications Agency communications were not encrypted," Marc Ambinder wrote. "The tradition has stuck around."

President Obama's Secret Service code name, chosen during his 2008 presidential campaign, is "Renegade." Michelle Obama's code name is "Renaissance," while Malia and Sacha go by "Radiance" and "Rosebud," respectively.

Obama's opponent in the 2008 election, Sen. John McCain, was "Phoenix," a nod to his home state. McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was "Denali."

While GOP rivals Romney, Santorum and Gingrich enjoy Secret Service protection, Ron Paul told Jay Leno on Tuesday that he wouldn't take the security offer.

"It's a form of welfare, having the taxpayers take care of somebody and I'm an ordinary citizen," Paul said. "I should pay for my own protection."

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