WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder will be the cabinet member not attending President Obama’s speech tonight to Congress in the House chamber for security reasons, a Justice Department official tells CNN.
The official said Holder will be staying at an undisclosed location.
By tradition, one cabinet member does not attend such speeches in case of disaster, since so many other government leaders are vulnerable in one place. Customarily, the absent official is a member of the national security team.
So which member of former President Bush’s cabinet stayed away from his final “State of the Union” last year?
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, did not attend the president’s speech in 2008. The previous year, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stayed away.
Other former cabinet officials to miss the annual speech:
2006: Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
2005: Don Evans, Secretary of Commerce
2004: Don Evans, Secretary of Commerce
2003: John Ashcroft, Attorney General
(Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also did not attend, due to health problems)
2002: Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
2001: Anthony J. Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
2000: Bill Richardson, Secretary of Energy
1999: Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
1998: William Daley, Secretary of Commerce