Eliot Engel

How to Get a Good Seat at the State of the Union

Let us sit. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ever wonder about the seating arrangements at the State of the Union? Not only does a good seat provide a better listening experience, but prime real estate increases the chances of a handshake or peck on the cheek from President Barack Obama and face time on live television. HOH surveyed some of the best position players as well as institutional rules to present the best options for securing a primo seat.  

Camp Out Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., stumbled into his tradition of always getting a good seat early, at his first State of the Union. A fellow freshman told him that former Rep. Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery, D-Miss., who was friends with President George H.W. Bush, sat on the aisle and always shook hands with the president. Engel told HOH that Montgomery said if the colleague sat next to him, he would pull Bush over to shake his hand and if Engel sat in the third seat in, he would pull him over, too.