Senator to keep seat empty at State of the Union for ailing colleague Kirk

Jan 24, 2012

A Democratic senator who planned to sit with a Republican for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address says he will keep the seat empty in honor of his ailing colleague.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk suffered a stroke this past weekend and underwent surgery Sunday night. He is in intensive care at a Chicago hospital and doctors say he could lose full use of his left arm and experience facial paralysis.

In a statement, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said the two were planning to sit together for Tuesday night's speech in a show of bipartisanship. Instead, Manchin will keep the seat empty in Kirk's honor.

Manchin called Kirk the kind of leader who will reach across the aisle to put country first.