Jenna Bush Hager has opened up about the friendship she developed with John Kerry’s daughters during the 2004 election, when her father George W. Bush was running against the Democratic senator from Massachusetts.
On Thursday morning, while votes were still being counted in key states, the Today host reflected on how she and her twin sister Barbara called Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry to share their condolences after it was revealed that Bush had won a second term 16 years ago.
‘The day after election night, which went really late, I’m not sure people remember this is normal, we called them. We just said, “We know that your heart’s probably broken because you worked so hard for your dad and you thought he was the best guy,’ Jenna, 38, said.
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Memory: Jenna Bush Hager recalled on the Today show how she and her twin Barbara struck up a friendship with John Kerry’s daughters Alexandra and Vanessa during the 2004 election
Stumping: The Bush twins campaigned with their father, former President George H.W. Bush, in September 2004 (L). Alexandra and Vanessa are pictured with their dad a month later (R)
Doing all she can: Jenna, now 38, explained that she and Barbara decided to campaign for their dad’s reelection in 2004 because she had a dream that he had lost
‘We both talked about the uncertainty, about the stress that comes with it, the feeling of loss, you know, how it feels when somebody that you think could do the best job doesn’t win.’
Jenna also shared how Alexandra, 47, and Vanessa, 43, graciously told them, ‘Well, we know your dad. He worked hard. We know it’s going to be okay.’
George W. Bush first ran for president in 2000, and Jenna admitted that she and her sister were less than thrilled with his decision.
‘When my dad said he was going to run for president, Barbara and I cried,’ she said. ‘We told him he was going to ruin our life. We were like, “No!” We were 17 and we were going to college, and then we were in college.’
Friendship: The former First Daughter said Alexandra and Vanessa called them with questions about the Democratic National Convention (pictured) and later and told them how fun it was
Reaching out: When their dad won, Jenna and Barbara called the Kerry girls to offer their condolences. Alexandra and Vanessa are pictured watching their dad’s concession speech
Looking to the future: Jenna shared how Alexandra and Vanessa graciously told them, ‘Well, we know your dad. He worked hard. We know it’s going to be okay’
Jenna explained that she and Barbara decided to campaign for their dad’s reelection in 2004 because she had a dream that he had lost.
‘I woke up,’ she recalled. ‘This was when I was graduating from college. I was supposed to teach in Harlem. I said to Barbara, I called her, and I said, “We have to go out and campaign for dad.
‘I know that’s the opposite of what we want to do, but he’s given us all of his unconditional love and we need to support him.”‘
It was on the campaign trail that they developed a rapport with Alexandra and Vanessa, who would turn to them with their questions.
Coming together: The Today host insisted that ‘we can unify as a country’ following this year’s election, noting that the famous picture of Michelle Obama hugging her dad is a sign of that
Positive: ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the point is we’re not too far divided,’ Jenna said on Thursday morning’s show
‘They called and said, “We just want to know about the convention. What’s it going to be like?” Then they had their convention, and they said, “You know, we had so much fun. It was almost like a wedding. I hope you enjoy.” We talked to them,’ Jenna said of maintaining a camaraderie with the Kerry girl despite being on opposite teams.
The former First Daughter noted that the phone call wasn’t anything she has really thought about or even spoken about, but with tensions running high as the country anxiously awaits the results of the election, it reminded her that ‘we can unify as a country.’
‘I am sure ya’ll remember that picture of Mrs. Obama hugging my dad and that picture where he looks like her little baby,’ she said. ‘That is in us, and if your neighbor thinks different than you do, that doesn’t mean it’s the end.
‘I think we’re sort of at the beginning of conversations,’ she added. ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the point is we’re not too far divided.’