LIANE HANSEN, Host:
The president will deliver his State of the Union speech on the 25th of this month. This past week, Colorado Senator Mark Udall suggested that Democrats and Republicans sit together in the House chamber for the speech. Traditionally, the party sits on opposite sides. Senator Udall is on the line. Thanks for taking the time. Welcome to the program.
MARK UDALL: Hi, Liane. Thanks for having me on.
HANSEN: Isn't it a rule that the parties have separate seating arrangements?
UDALL: It is not a rule, it is a custom. It's a custom that's in some ways understandable, Liane. But it just seemed to me, given the elevated rhetoric of the last couple of years and the tragedy in Tucson and the need for us to really come together in a unified way, one way to do that, one way to present a symbolic front to the country would be to sit together and change that custom.
HANSEN: Have they ever sat together?
UDALL: So, there's no hard and fast rule that we can't sit together.
HANSEN: Practically speaking, though, wouldn't there be like a scramble for seats? I mean, would people save seats for one another? Would it kind of be like, you know, the middle school lunchroom where all the cool kids are sitting in one place and saving seats for another?
UDALL: And you'd have a nice mix of senators on both sides of the chamber. The House members tend to come to the chamber and wave and there's open seating. But if there's a general feeling in the House that they ought to mix their seating arrangements, it could happen just organically.
HANSEN: Have you had any response from your own party, the Democrats?
UDALL: I've had a lot of support from both parties. Senators Shaheen, Wyden, Begich, Boxer, McCaskill in my party think it's an excellent idea. I should add Senator Gillibrand as well. And then Senator McCain, Senator Murkowski, Senator Snowe, and then that intrepid Independent Joe Lieberman have all let me know that it's a good idea and they'll join me in making the statement sitting among Republicans and Democrats alike.
HANSEN: So, you're going to do it no matter what?
UDALL: I am. I'm going to walk down the aisle - sound like I'm getting married again, don't I? And normally my custom would be to take a left and go sit over on the Democratic side of the House chamber but I'll take a right. I predict there'll be a lot of senators who join me.
HANSEN: Mark Udall is the Democratic senator from Colorado. Good luck with your plan. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
UDALL: Thank you.
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