Seat savers: Early birds claim their spots for State of the Union
February 12th, 2013
11:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Seat savers: Early birds claim their spots for State of the Union

(CNN) - Judging by their early arrivals, today might be the Black Friday of the political world.

But instead of camping out for deals on electronics and toys, they're claiming their seats for the most-watched political event of this year.

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About ten hours before President Barack Obama delivers his fourth State of the Union address, several members of Congress have already claimed their seats along the main aisle.

Those seats are most desirable because members can score a handshake or a few brief words with the president on his way to the House rostrum.

At least two Democrats have so far marked their seats with coats or bags.

Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia dropped his bag early and sat on a nearby chair reading some papers, but left the chamber around 10:15 a.m.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, dropped her things in the aisle on the third seat from the front shortly after 10 a.m. ET. She is a regular seat-saver and was wearing a bright purple dress sure to be noticed by television cameras.

The first row or two in the center section are typically reserved for such dignitaries as Supreme Court justices and military leaders.

A third member left some belongings in a seat near Bishop's.

But these members can't go far if they want to keep these positions - prime real estate for a handshake with the president.

House Speaker John Boehner's office sent a memo to members this week as a reminder they must be physically present in the House chamber if they want to reserve any specific seats for the address.

"As has been the practice in the past, members will not be allowed to reserve seats prior to the joint session by placement of placards or personal items. Chamber security may remove these items from the seats. Members may reserve their seats only by physical presence following the security sweep of the chamber," the note directed.

- CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Bill

    This is funny. I would not come early to shake the hand of the president or the pope, but if Jesus or Mohammad or Moses was coming, I think I would definitely consider it because it would clear up a few things in my mind, and maybe even help my overall health.

    February 12, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Everybody likes to get a good seat. This is nothing new for Congress or society. What lengths they will go to get them is what should (or shouldn't) make the news.

    February 12, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |