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- Embattled Rep. George Santos grabbed a premier center aisle seat ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address.
- That seating put him in a prime position to shake some hands.
- But he soon discovered that not everyone, including some Republicans, was interested in seeing him.
Republican Rep. George Santos of New York grabbed a seat on the center aisle ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, putting him in a prime position to shake some hands.
Seated beside Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Santos soon discovered that not everyone — including some Republicans — was interested in seeing him.
As they began to enter the chamber around 8:30 pm, several senators customarily shook hands with the scandal-plagued Long Island congressman, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Whip John Thune, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and even a couple of Democrats: Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
But several senators were visibly uninterested, particularly Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2023
Other dignitaries who passed by Santos also passed over him, even as they shook hands with Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, seated on the other side of him. Among them was Vice President Kamala Harris.
Santos sat just in front of Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee and behind Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi.
Aside from reserved places for leadership, seats in the House chamber are not assigned to members of Congress during the State of the Union Address. Seats are reserved for senators as a group in the front of the chamber and House members sit behind them. House members can claim preferred spots during the day but they have to camp out there to reserve them for the entirety of the speech.
Many Republicans have spent the last month avoiding Santos, who is at the center of a media circus sparked by myriad lies on his resume and investigations of his campaign finances, and who has faced calls to resign from members not just within his own party, but from his home state delegation.
Many of those who spoke recently with Insider’s Bryan Metzger made it clear they wanted nothing to do with Santos.
But as Metzger noted, the congressman who initially sat by himself during his first days in office eventually found a “receptive crowd” among the chamber’s right-wing lawmakers.
Photos of Santos from earlier this session show him sitting between Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and fellow freshman Andy Ogles of Tennessee or with Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas, who told Metzger that Santos seems like a “nice guy.” Greene appears to have known Santos at least since 2020.
During the House speaker vote fight, Insider spotted Santos hanging out by Kevin McCarthy tormentors Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
In recent weeks, Insider has watched Santos roam around the chamber during votes. Sometimes that entails standing alone along the back wall as members weigh in on pending bills, while on at least one occasion he spent about 10 minutes chatting up fellow freshman GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida.