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Introducing Jenna Bush, the blond one

September 28, 2007 |  6:44 am

Before they became the First Family, few things could cause as dark a cloud to come over the faces of George W. and Laura Bush as media questions about their twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara. It was actually then-Gov. Bush's fond dream that the pair would campaign with him the way he had with his father over the years.

But the teenage girls, named for their grandmothers, wanted their privacy and nothing to do with campaigning. Although they were frequently at campaign events, they mingled with friends off to the side and rarely took the stage. The idea of a reporter interviewing one or both of them never got past the first few words.

How much things change, especially when one of them has a new book coming out.

We are suddenly about to learn a lot at least about Jenna, the blond one. She's the younger twin, by one minute. And in the new issue of People magazine and tonight with Diane Sawyer on ABC News' "20/20," the 25-year-old elementary school teacher talks about her new book, "Ana's Story," the true story of a 17-year-old mother living with HIV.

It grew out of her job teaching for UNICEF in four Latin American and Caribbean countries, where Bush documented the lives of children living in extreme poverty, typically with HIV/AIDS and often in abusive households. "This book," the young Bush wrote, "does not have a tidy ending because it is a work of nonfiction based on a life in progress.... This book must end, but Ana's story is still being written, this time by her."

We learn a little in the ABC piece and People about her fiance, Henry Hager, the 29-year-old son of a prominent Virginia Republican family, and how he dragged her up a mountain in Maine in the predawn darkness of Aug. 15 to propose marriage as the sun rose. We learn that her sister Barbara and mother conspired with Hager to size the custom-made reset ring, originally his great-grandmother's.

Asked if it's hard to watch her father so vilified on television, Jenna says the family doesn't watch much television anymore. "He's a different person to me than what they portray him as," she says.

She declines to talk about the Iraq war. Sawyer presses the issue, saying some people like Matt Damon say the Bush daughters should be fighting in Iraq. "I think," says Jenna, "there are many ways to serve your country...I think if people really thought about it, they know that we would put many people in danger. But I understand the point of it. I hope that I serve by being a teacher."

She says her partying days, once the subject of tabloid fodder, are over. "I've grown in the past five years," she says. "I've become really disciplined."

She says she's eagerly anticipating the end of her father's second term. "It will be fun to have some of him back," she says.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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