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Jenna Bush works to avoid attention on trip to Europe

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Jenna Bush, Secret Service code name "Twinkle," shunned the bright lights of her mother's 10-day European tour, taking pains to avoid news cameras.

In the three years since Jenna and twin sister Barbara, now 20, told their father they wanted nothing to do with his presidential campaign, neither girl has warmed to public life. "I would say probably NO," first lady Laura Bush said with a chuckle on Tuesday.

"They just want to do like every other college junior," Mrs. Bush said.

That much was obvious as Jenna, just finished with her sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin, tagged along with her mother to Paris, Hungary and Czech Republic.

"She doesn't want her picture in the paper, so she avoids the times that there are a lot of press," Mrs. Bush told White House reporters in her traveling entourage who had only glimpses of Jenna along the way.

There she was, leaving an Air Force jet in Paris behind a military valet's walking wall of Neiman Marcus garment bags. In Budapest, she tarried on the plane until the press was loaded into the motorcade.

By the third and final stop, in Prague, White House officials had written into the official schedule that Jenna would leave the plane first. She would be in Mrs. Bush's limousine before anyone else, including her own Secret Service agents, had a chance to retrieve their carry-on bags.

Jenna travels to Berlin on Wednesday to see her dad and then returns to the United States while he and the first lady continue on to official visits in Russia and France.

Israel Hernandez, deputy to senior Bush adviser Karl Rove and a close friend of the Bush family, has been traveling in the official party to keep Jenna company. When President Bush was governor of Texas, Hernandez, now 31, was often called upon to help look after the twins when the parents were away, friends recall.

A government-paid minder is not unusual. When Hillary Clinton brought daughter Chelsea along on foreign trips, family confidante Capricia Marshall, also the White House social secretary, went along primarily for Chelsea's sake.

White House spokeswoman Noelia Rodriguez decreed at the outset of this trip that Jenna was traveling as a private citizen -- albeit also on the U.S. government -- and was "off-limits" to the news media. White House staff politely but firmly suggested to photographers that they avert their lenses, even on the rare occasions Jenna attended the first lady's public appearances.

Back of the band

At a remembrance ceremony at the Terezin concentration camp outside Prague, Jenna stood inconspicuously near the back of a military band.

In the presidential box of Budapest's Magyar Allami Opera House, Jenna lingered in the back shadows and did not take a front seat beside her mother until the house lights went dark for the evening's performance of Madame Butterfly. The following night, she was designated to sit at her mother's front table for a formal dinner on the lawn of the U.S. ambassador's residence, but ordered up some last-minute rearranging for a table at the back.


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