The State Of The Union's Early Birds

Evelyn Thomas is a Capitol Hill producer for CBS News.
(AP)
We have all seen the President on the State of the Union night as he walks down the aisle and presses the flesh with many members of Congress. Sometimes a lucky member will even get a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Ever wonder how those people came to be sitting in those seats?

It's nothing so formal as assigned seats. Indeed not. Instead, it's an old Washington game of putting yourself in the right place for the maximum exposure.

Most members of Congress are good at this and secure secure those prize chairs for themselves. To do this — and be sure they will get the prize of great value they are looking for — they come early and put a card with their name on it on a choice seat.

Many members come early and do this but others go an extra step and note the time. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., noted on his card "6:45 a.m." Another, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, not only marked her chair, but was seen sitting in it at 9 a.m. reading the paper.

Others just came early and left the card with their name on it in the chair. One Congressman was seen walking up and down the rows trying to see which seats had not been taken. He seemed to be having trouble finding one - guess he learned the early bird catches the worm.
  • Evelyn Thomas

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