Byline: Susan Watters
WASHINGTON — It wasn’t until they’d ditched their parents that an army of young Republicans, led by First Family fraternal twins Jenna and Barbara Bush, began to kick up their heels at the three-day Inaugural bash.
The Bush twins got their chance Friday night at around 10:30 p.m. when their parents finally bowed out of the Black Tie and Boots ball. Traveling in a pack of about 20 teenagers — surrounded by Texas school friends and assorted relations — the Bush entourage poured out of the ballroom and headed into a quiet corner of the Marriott Woodley Hotel.
With Secret Service agents placed discreetly in the shadows of the wood-paneled meeting room, Jenna Bush, a freshman at the University of Texas, quickly lit her cigarette. “There’s a new kind of rebellion going on,” says Bush niece Lauren, 16, a junior at the Kinkaid School in Houston who showed up for lunch at the Ritz with her mother, Sharon Bush, and friend Aniko Gaal Schott. “Instead of wearing grunge, we like dressing up.” Lauren is the Bush glamour-girl, an aspiring model with whom Prince William once corresponded.
“It happened two years ago,” she moaned. “Why is everyone bringing it up now?”
Parental breakaways weren’t always easy for the Bush gang, all 26 of whom were holed up together at the Blair House while they waited for the Clintons to leave the big white house across the street.
By Saturday night, when they’d all moved into the White House, Jenna Bush was still furious about the dance with her father in which his ebullient inaugural twirl almost caused her to pop out of her strapless gown.
“It’s difficult for political kids,” said Lilly Stevens, a sophomore at Stanford and the daughter of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. “We’re young and into fashion and we want to wear things we like, but at the same time, you have to not be too ostentatious. You don’t want to wear what your mother would wear. You want to be grown-up but also you want to be fresh.”
As for protecting the Bush twins’ privacy, Republican teens aren’t optimistic.
“It’s not like Chelsea Clinton, who came into the White House at that awkward age of 12,” said one Bush friend. “Jenna and Barbara are both very stylish. And unlike Chelsea, they’re not coming into the White House during that awful, awkward stage. It will be hard to keep them under wraps.”