Jenna and Barbara Talk Dating During the Bush White House: 'There Was Some Pressure'

The former first daughters opened up in a new interview about how "intimidating" it could be for some men to to date them while their father was in office

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush
Jenna Bush Hager (left) and Barbara Pierce Bush. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

While both happily married now, it wasn't all that many years ago that Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush were single 20-somethings — who, unlike most of their peers, were navigating the dating scene while their dad was in the White House.

Speaking to Access Daily in a new interview to discuss their children's book The Superpower Sisterhood, published earlier this month, the twins reminisced about the pressures of dating men who had to contend with the fact that their dad, George W. Bush, was the president of the United States.

"I think it was intimidating — for them," Barbara, 40, told Access this week. "I mean, my mom basically proposed to my husband. So it was intimidating, yet welcoming."

Hager added that it was "easier for Barbara's husband, because one had already come in," referring to her own husband, Henry Hager, whom she married in 2008 and began dating when her father was still in office (after meeting during the 2004 campaign).

"When Henry first asked me out, I remember him showing up at the White House, and his ears were red, and I was like, "Are you okay?' " 40-year-old Jenna said. "He was so nervous. He was sweaty because ... The helicopter — Marine One — was about to land, and he was like, 'We have got to get out of here, like right now.' "

"It ended up fine, but yeah, there was some pressure that comes with dating a presidential daughter for sure," she told Access.

Elsewhere in the interview, the pair talked about their Secret Service code names. Barbara's was "Turquoise," which Jenna noted was "the color of her eyes." Jenna's, meanwhile, was "Twinkle" — which she admitted was somewhat embarrassing. "A lot of people thought it was 'Tinkle,' " she said with a laugh.

Jenna has previously opened up about the pressures that came with dating a first daughter, saying in a Today segment earlier this year that Henry — then her boyfriend — had a rough go of it when he once went riding with her father, an avid biker.

"One time, this is terrible, but Henry and my dad went biking, when they first — like, this sort of bonding moment — they went mountain biking. And Henry had a Schwinn Twinsky, and dad had a real mountain bike," Jenna said on Today.

Asked if Henry managed to keep up, Jenna was quick to admit that he did not.

"[My dad] shredded him," she said. "Left him in the dust. And by the way, back then, he was president so all the Secret Service cars would go past him."

She continued: "So Henry's humiliated, trying to fix his chain that broke on his Schwinn Twin. He starts going down the hill and the Secret Service open the door on Henry and Henry flies in the air and lands. So my dad calls and goes, 'Hey, J, just want to tell ya, Henry did an okay job. He did get doored, but he's okay. He's got some scratches, he might have hurt his arm, but he's okay.' "

RELATED VIDEO: The Bush Sisters Reveal Which Judy Blume Book Taught Them About Sex

"He got doored?" Jenna's Today co-host Hoda Kotb asked.

"He got doored," Jenna responded. "And those doors are bulletproof! They're bulletproof!"

Afterward, Jenna said Henry confided: "I think your dad was trying to kill me."

He and Jenna went on to marry and now share three kids: daughters Mila, 8, and Poppy, 6, and son Hal, 2.

Barbara, meanwhile, wed Craig Coyne in an intimate October 2019 ceremony at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The couple welcomed their first baby together, daughter Cora Georgia Coyne, on Sept. 27.

President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush announced the happy news. "Cora is healthy and adorable, and we are proud and grateful," the Bushes said in a statement then.

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