President Bush has just lost his right-hand man, but he's about to gain a son.
Jenna Bush, the Bushes' youngest-by-minutes twin daughter, yesterday announced her engagement to longtime beau Henry Hager, once a White House intern who worked under senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, who this week announced his resignation.
One close family friend says a White House wedding might be in the works — the first since 1971 when Tricia Nixon was married.
"We've already heard talk of that today, so that just might happen," said the friend, who asked not to be identified.
The first lady's office put out a statement yesterday that said, "President and Mrs. George W. Bush are happy to announce the engagement of their daughter, Jenna Bush, to Mr. Henry Hager, son of the Honorable and Mrs. John H. Hager of Richmond, Virginia."
Mr. Hager, 29, and Miss Bush, 25, became engaged in Maine on Wednesday. (Mrs. Bush's office would not say if the handsome young man knelt on one knee, or even if the engagement took place at the elder Bushes' Kennebunkport home on Walker's Point.)
"No wedding date has been set," the two-paragraph statement said.
But it could be a long engagement: Mr. Hager, who has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, will be returning within weeks to Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia to complete his master's degree in business administration.
Mr. Hager's father started out in the tobacco industry, serving as the government affairs representative for American Tobacco Company, and then moved into politics. Mr. Hager served one term as lieutenant governor in Virginia and is now the chairman of the state Republican Party.
In May 2004, Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Hager as assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services in the Department of Education. He stepped down from the post at the beginning of this month.
Miss Bush, a 2004 University of Texas graduate, gained a party-girl reputation in the early years of her father's presidency. She was charged in 2001 with a misdemeanor for possessing alcohol and months later for attempting to use a fake ID to buy alcohol.
But since then, she has settled down, working for 18 months as a school teacher in Washington and later working for UNICEF in Panama. She returned in late June from a trip with the first lady to Africa, and the two are collaborating on a children's picture story to be published in the spring.
Codenamed "Twinkle" by the Secret Service, Miss Bush also has her own book coming out in the fall called "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope," based on her time working for UNICEF, which tells of a 17-year-old single mother in Panama who is HIV positive.
In the acknowledgments section of the book, she lists "my patient Henry," whom she thanked for "reading Ana's Story and giving me your honest edits and suggestions."
The newly engaged couple had dated for several years (he worked on the president's re-election campaign) and made all the gossip columns after being spotted together at the president's second inaugural ball in 2005. The following month, first lady Laura Bush, interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," was asked about the beau.
"This is not a serious boyfriend. I hate to, I have to be the one to say it on television, but he's a very nice young man," she said. Well, chalk one up for nice.
Besides President Richard M. Nixon's daughter, seven daughters of presidents have had White House weddings: Maria Monroe (1820), Elizabeth Tyler (1842), Nellie Grant (1874), Alice Roosevelt (1906), Jessie Wilson (1913), Eleanor Wilson (1914) and Lynda Bird Johnson (1967).