WASHINGTON -- Herman Cain soon will be the first Republican presidential candidate to be protected by a U.S. Secret Service detail, the agency said Thursday evening.

By law, major presidential candidates get Secret Service protection within 120 days of a presidential election. Also, the Secretary of Homeland Security may grant protective status to other candidates based on recommendations of an advisory committee.

Perry challenges Pelosi to debate

PEARL, Miss.-- Rick Perry, who is running for president, is picking a fight with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is not.

Struggling to steady his bid for the GOP nomination, Perry this week launched a campaign against Washington culture and challenged Pelosi, ousted last year from the House speakership, to debate his plan to overhaul Congress.

Pelosi responded, "Monday I'm going to be in Portland in the morning. I'm going to be visiting some of our labs in California in the afternoon. That's two. I can't remember what the third thing is I'm going to be doing."

Romney aide critical of Mass. governor

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's top aide suggested Thursday that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's office had become "an opposition research arm" of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

In a letter to Patrick, Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades blamed the Democrat's administration for being behind a Boston Globe report Thursday that documented Romney's efforts to leave no email records behind when he left office in 2007.