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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sights and sounds from the State of the Union



When President Bush came to the Capitol Tuesday night to give his State of the Union address, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow was one of the lawmakers selected to escort him into the House chamber. Sen. Mel Martinez, the new head of the Republican Party, who had changed into a TV-friendly red tie for the occasion, sat in one of the front rows, just behind Bush's Cabinet and the stoic Supreme Court justices.

Most members of the Florida congressional delegation were present as were Katherine Harris and Joe Scarborough, who are allowed back on the floor as former members. Dressed in a black suit, Harris was greeted warmly by several former colleagues, some of whom she invited back to her Capitol Hill townhouse. Missing was the man who beat her in November, Sen. Bill Nelson, who was home sick.

Among the guests sitting in the House galleries were Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, who last year was ejected because she was wearing a T-shirt supporting the troops. She was back again, with the T-shirt, sitting not far from Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney and actor Michael J. Fox, but there was no incident.

Almost-Congresswoman Christine Jennings, who is still fighting her slim loss to Vern Buchanan in the Sarasota area, was the guest of Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California who wanted to “highlight the gross injustice of election problems” in the disputed election.

Buchanan didn't pay any attention to Jennings -- calling her his "favorite constituent" -- and instead reveled in the ceremonial aspects of the night. "To be a blue-collar kid from Detroit, you'd never think it's possible," he said before leaving to meet Martinez and their wives for dinner.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:27pm]


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