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Larry King surprises nearly-wed Jenna Bush with a political question

There was a time when their father, George W. Bush, first entered public office, that his twin daughters -- Jenna and Barbara -- were so totally embarrassed by the spotlight. Totally.

They had seen the price their grandfather had paid as vicJenna Bush and her fiance, Henry Hager, who will wed in an evening wedding at the Bush ranch in Texas on May 10e president and president and unsuccessful second-term-seeker, plus their father's two campaigns for Texas governor. And they don't like politics.

Despite his fond hopes entering the first presidential race in 1999, both girls said they wanted no part of the public attention. And their parents protected that desire ferociously. Just ask any reporter who sought interviews with the teens in those days.

During the primary contests, they would wait inside the small chartered plane while all the media attention surrounded one or both parents outside. And then slip into separate cars with protective Texas Rangers. They were there at many....

public events, but in the crowd with friends or relatives.

What a change! Now 26, Jenna (the blond one named for Laura Bush's mother) handles most any public attention with aplomb, having been teaching in Washington, D.C., schools and done one book tour.

Now, just two weeks before her May 10 Texas wedding to Henry Hager, a 29-year-old Virginian, Jenna is on another book tour with her mother plugging a children's volume -- "Read All About It!" -- they wrote together to encourage a favorite cause of both, literacy.

Contrary, perhaps, to the wishes of some East Coast society writers, Jenna opted against a White House wedding. "I'm more of an outdoor girl," she said earlier this week on the "Today" show. With her mother's help, they've planned a Saturday evening affair (it can be hot on May afternoons in Crawford) under a tent on the Bush ranch with about 200 friends and family. Hager has already bought a house in Baltimore, where he'll work.

Also this week Jenna and her mother were on "Larry King Live," a highly-coveted prime-time spot for any author or politician. They did talk about the children's book. But, of course, Larry had to get some politics in, asking the Republican first lady which Democratic candidate was her favorite.

As if the savvy veteran would answer that one. Of course, if she had, King would have made news for his program. As it happened, the program made news anyway, but by what wasn't said.

"My favorite is the Republican," said Laura Bush, who is one of very few people who've actively participated in every presidential campaign but one (1996) since 1980. The trio laughed.

Turning to Jenna Bush, King said, "Yours, too, I would imagine."

She seemed surprised. "I don't know," she replied.

"A-ha," said King.

"But, I mean, you know --"

"Are you open to --"

"Yes, of course," said the bride-to-be. "I mean, who isn't open to learning about the candidates? But, I mean, and I'm sure everybody is like that. But I really -- I honestly have been too busy with books to really pay that much attention."

Now, someone from the Bush camp will have to explain to the McCain people, well, you know, she wasn't expecting a political question, she's got a lot on her mind.

-- Andrew Malcolm

                                                                             Photo Credit: AP

Comments () | Archives (4)

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"They had seen the price their grandfather had paid as president and vice their father's two campaigns for Texas governor."

WHAT PRICE?! The Bush Dynasty have reaped billions from their political careers and subsequent wars in the Middle East.

The only ones who have "paid a price" are the American people.

Well. At least the media is allowed to ask Jenna Bush questions. As we all know, Chelsea Clinton, now 28 yrs old) is out on the campaign stump for her mom, Sen. Clinton, and the campaign has banned the press from asking her any questions - and our national press is fine with that. How can that be?

a-ha...really cute or totally awkward reaction? well, perhaps jenna will read all about it one day; be or don't be surprised if she won't though. her main preoccupation being the acquisition of literacy, she might sooner be expected to learn about it from hearsay - that is, if anyone ever talks to her about such matters as the future of the american republic. the fate of which her father and grandfather might be seen to have left no small dent on. what is more surprising is laura bush's allegation; as she can only have been referring to RON PAUL when she said she favored 'THE republican' [presidential candidate] - since she can be expected to be perfectly aware that HE is the only legitimate republican presidential candidate left in the race; though she didn't spell it out. but then, with all her dramatic/traumatic near range political experience(s), it would be more surprising had she not learned a few hard but useful lessons. and after all, to teach little and big kids to spell and read while letting them think for themselves (what a challenge!), might prevent some terrible political desasters of the recent years to repeat themselves all over again quite soon. and maybe some day we'll read all about it. that is - if those who could be expected to expect people to read about things, will ever decide to write about things. meanwhile, we'll just think about IT all on our own, and listen to ron paul spell out and read to us the constitution. we might even have a fun spelling bee contest.

GH, with all that stuff you babbled, you sound certifiable. you need a doctor!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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