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Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has been named the “designated survivor” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has been named the “designated survivor” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.  Chip Somodevilla-Getty Images

This 81-Year-Old Republican Could Be President Tomorrow

Updated: Jan 12, 2016 8:33 PM ET

Correction appended

If an unthinkable disaster strikes the Capitol during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch will become the next President of the United States.

The 81-year-old Republican lawmaker was appointed this year’s “designated survivor,” The Guardian reports, meaning he’ll watch from afar at an undisclosed location as the country’s top leaders are gathered at President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.

Hatch, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will assume the presidency in case the worst happens to the Commander-in-Chief, Vice President and House Speaker during the annual speech. The seven-term senator, who ran for president in 2000, is the highest-ranking designated survivor in over a decade, according to The Guardian. He’d be the oldest president in U.S. history and the first Mormon.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was the designated survivor last year. The tradition dates to the Cold War over fears of a nuclear attack wiping out the country’s political and military leadership.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was designated by the White House to be the lone Cabinet member to not attend the State of the Union.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the year Hatch ran for president. He ran in 2000.

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