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Republican Paul Broun Calls Shuffled State of the Union Seating a "Trap"

A proposal for Democrats and Republicans to sit among each other during the State of the Union next week is gaining momentum, but one House Republican said in a radio interview that he thinks the idea is a "trap."

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. earlier this month that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) critically wounded, Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado suggested that members of the House and Senate end the practice of divided seating along partisan lines during the State of the Union, in the name of civility. Several congressmen have agreed to the mixed-seating plan, but don't expect to see Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia sitting with any Democrats.

In an interview with conservative radio host Scott Hennen, highlighted by the liberal media watchdog group "Media Matters," Broun said he was suspicious of the Democrats' motivations for the mixed seating.

"I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing," Broun said. "They don't want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show -- to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now."

Broun was responding to remarks from a caller who said she appreciated observing the partisan divide during the State of the Union. Typically, the president often receives standing ovations during the annual address from members of his own party, while members of the opposition party are more likely to stay seated.

"What the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, if they're scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won't be as noticeable as if we're sitting apart," Broun continued. "So it is a ruse and I'm not in favor of it and I'm talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait."

Broun, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, has not been one to shy away from the sort of brazen rhetoric many politicians have decried in the wake of the Tucson shooting. During a gun rights rally in April of last year, Broun told a crowd that it's time to "take this government back from the socialists." In June of last year, Broun said that if the Democrats' energy bill were to pass, old people would face health problems, and "people are gonna die because of that."

More of Broun's congressional colleagues today announced that they were joining the mixed-seating plan. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) announced today they'll sit together, as did Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.). Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) also plan to sit together.

Toomey said in a statement today he is "proud" to sit with Casey. "There will be many opportunities for us to work together in the 112th Congress, and sitting next to each other is a small but important step toward setting a civil and cooperative tone for the challenging work ahead of us," he said.

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