They're MIXING IT UP At The State Of The Union; Watch It LIVE On - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

They're MIXING IT UP At The State Of The Union; Watch It LIVE On KHQ & KHQ.Com At 6pm Tonight

  • Watch The State Of The Union LIVE on KHQ and on KHQ.com at 6pm on Tuesday

WASHINGTON - Civility or just silly, the push to mix Republicans and Democrats through the audience of President Barack Obama's televised State of the Union address is spreading across Capitol Hill on fueled by signals that Americans want to see more cooperation among the nation's leaders.

Hatched last week by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., the idea caught fire over the weekend after a poll showed a big majority of the public wanting lawmakers of both parties to sit together at the presidential address tonight. A spirited round of private phone calls and e-mails among lawmakers followed, and by Monday at least five dozen House members and senators had announced they had bipartisan dates for the big dance.

The result could be helpful to Obama as he delivers what is effectively the first speech of his re-election campaign. Rather than serving the traditional visual of the president's party popping up on one side of the chamber for dozens of standing ovations, the applause will be more evenly spread, perhaps giving the illusion of wider acceptance.

But many Republicans, too, accept the basic intent of the new seating plan.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told reporters that he would be more than happy to sit with his Democratic counterpart, Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He suggested that if working more productively together is everyone's goal, "maybe the sitting thing is a first step.

"If nothing else, it shows we are trying," said Rep. Paul Gosar, a freshman Republican from Arizona who will be sitting next to Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. "That's a gesture that the American people really want to see."

It may be fleeting. Good manners for an hour on television carry no guarantees for the political battles that loom over health care and federal spending during the two-year presidential election cycle that effectively kicks off with Obama's speech from the well of the House.

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