Jenna Bush Hager Kicks off 'Today' Hosting Duties With Visit From Dad George W. Bush

Jenna Bush Hager kicked off her new Today hosting duties with a virtual visit from her dad, former President George W. Bush.

During Hager's first day as the new co-host of Today's fourth hour with Hoda Kotb, her father sent in a taped message to encourage his daughter in her new endeavor.

"Hey, Jenna, your old dad here on film to tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you," he said. "I know you'll do a fabulous job."

Hager's mother, Laura Bush, also voiced support for her daughter, adding, "Jenna, your mother and your mother-in-law are calling to say we're so proud of you!"

Hager was previously announced as the new, permanent replacement for now-exited Today co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, who chose to leave the show in order to focus on other projects.

In a message after being announced as the new Today fourth hour co-host, Hager said, "I'm so excited, I can't believe it. It feels organic and it feels right. It just feels like the right time for me."

"I've been the fill-in which is a fun position to be because there's no pressure but you could just have a blast," she added. "So, to take it to the next level is awe-inducing."

"My little kids want me around more," she also explained. "I'm a traveling machine, so to be home and to get to be kind of grounded in one position feels like such an honor. To be around a little bit more feels like the right time for my family too."

Kotb also spoke about Hager's new addition to the fourth Today hour, saying that her new co-host is "the perfect fit."

"Being around Jenna is like being around the most real person. She says exactly what she thinks and believes and there's something about her that makes you do two things. You lean in because you want to know more and also you kind of weirdly tell her your secrets and you're like 'Oh my God, I just blurted all that out!'" Kotb told PEOPLE exclusively.


"She has this thing that's special. I know that people try to have it but I think you're born with it. And Jenna has it and it's the thing that makes her laugh at herself when she spills coffee on herself. It's the way that she makes other moms feel good enough because she explains how she's had the worst day ever and puts it out there."

Today airs from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays on NBC.