George W. Bush 'Never Imagined' Daughter Jenna Bush Hager Would 'Be a Star' on Television: 'We're Very Proud'

Sean Neumann
·3 min read

NBC News’ TODAY/Nathan Congleton George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush shared some lighthearted moments with their daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, on the Today show on Tuesday.

President Bush, 74, joked that he "never imagined" his daughter, 39, "would be a star" on TV — just like, he said, he never imagined being in the White House.

"We're very proud of her and love her," Bush told Hager's Today co-host, Hoda Kotb.

The former president sat down on Tuesday with Kotb, 56, for his first live television interview in three years before presiding over a naturalization ceremony for 30 new U.S. citizens.

After the ceremony, which Bush called "amazing," he and his wife spoke with Kotb and their daughter for an extended catch-up.

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NBC News’ TODAY/Nathan Congleton From left: Hoda Kotb and George W. Bush

NBC News’ TODAY/Nathan Congleton From left: Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager

Bush told Today that he and Mrs. Bush, also 74, are "living out in West Texas" and bingeing Netflix series like Hemingway.

Hager then clarified her parents are also spending a lot of time "spoiling" their grandchildren: Hager's daughters Mila, 8, Poppy, 5, and 2-year-old son Hal, whom they visited on Monday at Hager's home in New York City.

The couple, who have now been grandparents for eight years, joked with Kotb that they "couldn't stay long" during the visit because Mrs. Bush said their grandkids were "screaming around, jumping off the furniture."

"It was an exhausting experience," President Bush said before his wife added, "We had to leave."

The former first lady said it was her husband who really spoiled their grandchildren the most, but Hager stepped in to set the record straight.

"My mom gave Mila ice cream at like 3 months," she said with a laugh. "She was like, 'Babies have to have ice cream.' "

NBC News’ TODAY/Nathan Congleton George W. Bush

NBC News’ TODAY/Nathan Congleton From left: Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager, George W. Bush, Laura Bush

During the interview, Hager and Kotb joked about having parents on the air. "It's weird to bring your parents to work day," Hager said after one commercial break. "I kept saying, 'Dad, straighten your tie!' "

Kotb teased that everyone backstage was "hounding" Bush, telling the former president, "Get your tie, fix your button, change this, change that!"

"That's what happens when you have two daughters and a wife, right?" Hager told her dad. "Odd man out."

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But the interview had some heartfelt moments, as well.

Kotb asked the former first couple if they had any reservations about getting married in 1977, just three months after they started dating. No, they both decisively said, before telling Kotb and Hager more about the early days of their marriage.

"I'm a decisive person," Bush said, telling his daughter, "You should have seen your mom, those blue eyes — oh, my gosh."