On a new episode of "Making Space with Hoda Kotb," Hoda's co-host Jenna Bush Hager opened up about how her father, former president George W. Bush, tried to "make life normal" while leading the United States.
Jenna said that she and her sister Barbara had always known that their grandparents, former president George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, had "big jobs," but since they weren't in the sisters' "day-to-day life," the pair had a "normal childhood" in Texas. Jenna said that her father tried to promise a similar level of normalcy after he was elected.
"When my dad became president, he was like 'Don't worry. You can be normal,'" Jenna recalled. "Like, he just wanted to give us what we wanted, but obviously we couldn't. But I think he really believed that."
Jenna said that her parents did make an effort to keep their daughters out of the public eye and "never asked" her or Barbara to do public events until they were out of college.
"When we were little, we might have done a thing or two for my grandfather, but once my dad ran for president, we didn't go to one thing," Jenna said. "I mean, (we went to) election night, you know, but during the campaign trail, we didn't want to be any part of it, and that was OK with him."
"He wasn't using us as his daughters for any sort of campaign picture or anything like that," Jenna continued. "We just weren't part of it. And I think they allowed us to have our lives."
Despite the efforts of her parents, Jenna said it was "hard" to be the daughters of the president while on campus, especially for her sister Barbara, who went to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, while Jenna stayed closer to home at the University of Texas at Austin.
"I think it was particularly hard for her. I went to a school where I was surrounded by friends I already had," Jenna recalled.
"(Barbara) says even now, she's like, 'I don't think anybody (at Yale) voted for Dad," Jenna added. "And even her college roommates were in the front row of some book event. I'm like, 'No, surely ya'll voted for him,' and they were like "No.' ... That type of thing embarrassed us."
Jenna said that despite everything, her parents tried to give her and Barbara space to develop their own identities during that time.
"College is this really selfish time, meaning you're trying to figure out who you are outside of your family, outside of the expectations your household has for you," Jenna said. "And we could be in that. We could explore. We could try to come up with our own identity."