msnbc | February 12, 2013
>> thanz the best seats are the window seats. that's for a nap. or you want an aisle seat if you want to get up and go to the bathroom a lot. everybody knows that too. the staeflt union, the best seats in the house are on the aisle as well. now, those are where you have the best chance to press palms with the president on his way through the chamber. one congressman has been called the dean of the aisle seat . check out the headline in today's "new york daily news." you see it right there. new york congressman elliott engel joins me now to talk about this. "the new york daily news" called you an aisle hog, but they did give you proper respect about your vrt throughout the years and being able to get this seat that you first grabbed in 1989 after joining congress. what's your secret, though, to be able to getting the same spot?
>> well, you get there early. that's the secret. the problem is more and more people have caught on so more and more people get there early, but really it's just a tremendous honor for me to be at the state of the union . as a kid growing nup a working class family in the bronx i could have only dreamed someday that i would be able to say hello to the president at the state of the union when the whole world is actually watching, and i just think the trappings of democracy are just a great celebration, and i'm honored to do it. i've done it with every president since i've been in congress regardless of what the president was a democrat or republican because it's the president of the united states , and it's an honor for me to be there.
>> sir, i think a lot of people can relate to your enthusiasm of why you want to do this. according to the washington post , some of your colleagues have waited township seven hours to grab an aisle seat , so explain have the rules changed? i mean, how early are you squatting for seats?
>> well, usually m morning, but, you know, it's not who you have to stay in the seat. you kind of claim your seat. you leave your stuff there, and you go about your general business of the day. i have meetings. i, you know, read the newspapers, go on-line, do whatever i normally do except i hang around the capitol instead of being back in my office in the legislative office building . i'm talking to you now. i'm in the canon building. it's across from the capitol. it's not as if you're glued to your seat, but if you get there, people generally respect it, and that's your seat, and you have the opportunity to say hello to the president.
>> who is your plus one this evening?
>> i don't know.
>> you don't know?
>> i don't know. who am i -- say it again.
>> your plus one. who are you taking with you to the state of the union ?
>> i'm taking myself. generally the past couple of years we try to -- a democrat and republican, we try to pair up, but the person that i always paired up with everything lost her bid for re-election, so i'm solo today. i'm dateless tonight.
>> people will know where to find you on the aisle. what are you most looking forward or anticipating that you would like the president to impart tonight?
>> well, i think i was -- i am a supporter of president obama . i was a supporter of his re-election. i think the general themes that he has been talking about are very important. we're concerned about the economy. there's got to be a compromise. there's got to be a give and take. it can't be my way or the highway. we're concerned about gun control. that's something i think he is going to touch on. i think the war in afghanistan , wibding down that war. i think we're really at a crossroads in a lot of important things in our country's life, and i expect the president to articulate his view and i suspect i will support most of what he says.
>> sir, last but not least, as i understand it, you always have something worked out in your head when you can grab the president's hand, something to say. have you figured out the one-liner?
>> no, i just say whatever kind of moves me. the other day -- the other year, i should say, lst year i was on the republican side . president came down, and i grabbed him, and i said i thought i would sit on the republican side today to confuse you, and he laughed and thought that was really funny. he said i was looking at the democratic side and was wondering where is elliott ? it's just kind of -- it's fun. it's nice. i'm just so honored to be a member of the u.s. congress , and i'm really honored to participate tonight.
>> we really like your enthusiasm. congressman elliott engel, sir, thank