How will Obama face a different crowd at State of the Union?

In light of the Arizona shooting, President Obama is reworking his State of the Union speech to be delivered in only a dozen days -- and if a Democratic senator has his way, the president will be speaking to a different kind of audience.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is proposing that Democrats and Republicans sit together in the House chamber when Obama speaks the night of Jan. 25, rather than -- as is traditional -- have one party sit on one side and one on the other.

"Beyond custom, there is no rule or reason on this night we should emphasize divided government, separated by party, instead of being seen united as a country," Udall wrote colleagues.

He added: "The choreographed standing and clapping of one side of the room -- while the other side sits -- is unbecoming of a serious institution."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called it an "interesting idea," though he's not sure what Obama and other aides think about it.

"We're not going to remove the disagreement in politics," Gibbs said. "We're going to have debates soon. But, you know, maybe not having a physical aisle separate us would be a good thing as we talk about the state of our union."

Gibbs also cited the pep rally aspect of speeches past, and dueling standing ovations by each party.

"It's like a see-saw," he said.

The spokesman said the State of the Union address should be "a very serious and sober discussion of the important challenges that lie ahead." He added:

"It's time to reflect on the strength of our country, the resilience of our citizens in tough times of either war or economic turmoil. But, more importantly, to chart that course forward.

I think that's the way the president is approaching the construction of and the writing of that speech."

Source: rel

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