Red, blue, red, blue, red …

This item is courtesy of guest blogger (and Columbian reporter) Howard Buck, who interviewed Jamie Herrera Beutler after President Obama’s address.

Much was made of cats and dogs, er, Republicans and Democrats, breaking partisan ranks to shake up the seating pattern at Tuesday’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.

Sure enough, Southwest Washington’s own freshman Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, found herself lodged between a Democrat and a Republican. But, not so much by design.

Hoping to find a spot in the jammed House chamber with a good view both of President Obama and her husband, Daniel, wedged in the upstairs gallery, Herrera Beutler spotted “literally the last open seat in our area” that would work, she said.

A newcomer to the SOTU drill, she had found prime seats tacked with “reserved for” labels, mainly for the high-and-mighty. Not quite the duct tape audacity of Portland’s Rose Parade route, but not to be trifled with, either.

“I toyed with the idea of using the Speaker’s name and putting it in on a chair, but they’d probably figure that out,” she joked after the prime-time speech.

“I thought all this hoo-rah, ‘finding a prom date,’ was a little bit silly,” Herrera Beutler added. And yet, she couldn’t have mixed-and-matched much better, if she’d tried.

There she was, near the center aisle, with freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., a fellow freshman from Detroit – known as the first Bangladeshi-American elected to Congress, no less – on her right; and, on her left, Tea Party lightning rod Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Interestingly, she seemed to struggle, if only briefly, to recall Bachmann’s full name and home state when sharing the story.

Check out the scene for yourself, with this cool panorama photo link (Herrera Beutler is fourth-left from the aisle, about even with the third photographer camped on the carpet):

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