- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Jenna and Barbara Bush, the president’s 22-year-old twin daughters, joked about their days as “young and irresponsible” party girls and said they were not very political, but couldn’t sit out their father’s final campaign.

“We love our dad too much to stand back and watch from the sidelines,” Barbara Bush said.

The nation got its first good look at the twins on a prime-time stage last night as they introduced President Bush, who, in turn, introduced wife and mom Laura Bush to the Republican convention — by satellite — from a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

“You make me so very proud,” Mr. Bush said.

“We spent the last four years trying to stay out of the spotlight,” Jenna Bush said to laughter from the delegates. “Sometimes we did a little better job than others.”

The casually dressed young women sprinkled their five-minute speech with pop-culture references.

“They do know the difference between mono and Bono,” Jenna Bush said of her parents. “When we tell them we’re going to see OutKast, they know it’s a band and not a bunch of misfits.”

The twins followed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the stage. They pronounced him “awesome.”

Jenna Bush joked that their appearance provided an opportunity for “payback time” on live television. Barbara confided that her parents’ favorite term of endearment is “Bushie.”

“We had a hamster, too,” Barbara Bush said. “Let’s just say ours didn’t make it.”

That was a reference to the revival efforts that the daughters of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry said he performed on a family pet.

The twins’ convention appearance invited comparisons with Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry, who introduced their father at the Democratic convention in July with fond remembrances and humorous stories.

The Bush daughters, recent college graduates, have been campaigning for their father recently after staying mostly out of the public eye for the first 3 years of his term.

At the convention, they have made daily joint appearances, including a short tribute to their mother at a luncheon program yesterday.

For most of the administration, because their parents did their best to keep them out the public eye, the few images of the first daughters were often unflattering, particularly when they were in the news for underage drinking.

A glamorous photo spread in Vogue this year began a transformation to more public images.

The twins have traded flip-flops for strappy high heels, and except for the moment in July when Jenna Bush stuck out her tongue at photographers, they have mastered the art of the polished public smile.

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