Capitol Hill (CNN) – As Congress prepares for President Barack Obama's State of the Union, the hottest seats of the night in the House chamber - other than those in the first lady or the speaker’s boxes - are the coveted seats along the center aisle where members can personally greet the president when he walks in, and, of course, be seen by a national television audience.
Members who arrived early to grab one of only a handful of those prime aisle seats know the drill – they were the same ones who could be spotted on TV at last year's State of the Union: New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (sporting bright green to allow easy spotting by the cameras), Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Ohio Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt.
Two House officials said members arrived in the chamber as early as 8 a.m. ET, even though Tuesday's House session didn’t start until 10 a.m. and the president’s speech isn’t until 9 p.m.
Officially House chamber officials don't allow seat saving for the State of the Union address, and will remove any placards members try attaching to seats to grab a spot. But if members camp out in an aisle seat, using it as a workspace for the day, they are usually able to hold onto it for the presidential address. As television crews position cameras and test lights around the room throughout the day, the temperature inside the chamber is kept quite chilly, so it’s not unusual to see a seat-saver wearing a warm coat.