September 15th, 2009
04:35 PM ET
5 years ago

First on the Ticker: Bush, Palin aide disputes book claims

Bush reportedly said Palin was unprepared for the national stage.
Bush reportedly said Palin was unprepared for the national stage.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A former aide to George W. Bush and Sarah Palin is dismissing a claim by onetime Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer that the former president was clueless about Palin when she was tapped as John McCain's running mate last August.

Latimer writes in a new book - scheduled for release in October - that Bush wasn't even aware of Palin when she was picked.

"'What is she, the governor of Guam?'" Bush reportedly asked. Latimer also writes that Bush told aides that the then-Alaska governor was "not even remotely prepared" for the national stage.

But Jason Recher, who served as special assistant to President Bush and as a traveling aide to Palin during the campaign, said the former President was well aware of Palin - especially since the two met in person in Alaska just three weeks before Palin was added to the Republican ticket.

During a stopover in Fairbanks on the way to the Beijing Olympics last August, Recher said Bush met with Palin and even made a knowing reference to her rising reputation in the Republican Party.

"The president was fully aware of who Sarah Palin was," Recher told CNN. "Even so much that when he greeted the governor and Todd in Fairbanks during a re-fueling stop on the way to the Beijing Olympics, he threw open his arms and said "Madam Vice President!'"

"He was very aware of her rising-star status and who she was and everything about her, even down to the fact that she recently had given birth to Trig," Recher said.

After Palin became the vice presidential nominee, Recher said the White House loaned out both he and Laura Bush's photographer Shealah Craighead to the McCain campaign to help staff Palin and her family.

Recher said Bush and Palin had a warm relationship and talked multiple times throughout the campaign, including after a large campaign rally near Orlando in September and after the Vice Presidential debate in October.

"There is no air, no space between them," Recher said. "Sarah Palin is a big fan of George Bush, and she has said publicly she was proud he was Commander-in-Chief when her son Track was in Iraq."

Recher, who traveled with President Bush nearly every day for the final three years of his presidency, questioned just how plugged-in Latimer was at the White House.

"I think that most people that used to work at the White House would be hard pressed to pick him out of a lineup," Recher said. "Nobody knows who he is. When people heard he was writing a book the most common reaction has been, 'Who?'"


Filed under: George W. Bush • Sarah Palin
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. charlie in Maine

    "that the former president was clueless about Palin"

    Oh heck George, don't fret I am still clueless about why someone as smart a McCain would have picked that loose cannon. Picking a woman was brilliant. Picking that woman clearly not.

    Now as far as being clueless about other things..................

    September 15, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Connie, Indiana

    How long before Palin comes out with her comment? We're waiting!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. GOPer

    And the backpedalling continues. It seems the same thing happened after previous revealing book releases about the Bush administration: Ridge, McClellan, Woodard's "State of Denial..."

    September 15, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. dennisintn

    thanks so much for this article. i knew pres. bush was a better judge of character than latimer was claiming. it sounded like he was buttering up someone who might hire him for 2012.

    September 15, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Tommy Boy

    The blind leading the blind. Two negatives will always make a negative. I think the most telling comment, repeated throughout the story, is that no one seemed to have a clue. Mr. Latimer seems to know what he is talking about. I still can not find a single republican that gives the slightest appearance of having a clue.

    September 15, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Charlotte

    Well, George W Bush's assessment of Palin as anything resembling viable just makes one wonder if he was even more clueless than we already know. Whether he thought she was ready for the national stage or not, my reaction is "how on earth would he be equipped to determine this?" On the other hand the fact that he got appointed makes it rather terrifying, insofar as if someone like him could get int the white house, there might be a chance someone like her could. I find the thought of her even worse than the fact of him, as she actually believes all that religious -uh – stuff – and would try to force it onto everyone, whereas he only used it as a trick to get the "believers" to vote for him. And she is probably even less informed than he was, and determined to remain so. At least his speech writers knew English!

    September 15, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Can CNN keep the "governor of Guam" out o the Ticker for one day?

    September 15, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Franky

    For the record, I was aware of her well before anyone who she was. You remember? Yeah, you remember. But unfortunately for her, the only things she's good at is talking in freelance so maybe she can get some help in Hong Kong when she's visiting. They're smart people.

    You know what's funny? Actually, there's nothing funny about a woman who quit her job and is making speeches for her own benefit, let alone her own ambitions. I heard about the book and who knows how's it like and I wonder how is portrayed and so forth. She seems cool and a nice person but for starters, I respect the ladies if they know what they're talking about or in her case, knows what the Bush doctrine is so thank you!

    Wanna know another secret about me? I'm hot!! :)

    September 15, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Shirley In California

    Let the two devils go at each other. Who cares. They are both lost souls.

    September 15, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. NC

    Nobody else knew who Palin was either: INCLUDING JOHN MCCAIN

    September 15, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Beverly in NC

    Of course Bush didn't know who she was...neither did McCain...and she turned out to be a national embarrassment...dumb as dirt and completely clueless! Still proving that everytime she opens her mouth!

    September 15, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Stu-Florida

    I'm running out of barf bags :)

    September 15, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Jake

    even Bush is smart enough to distance himself from Palin. I'd pretend I never knew her too!

    September 15, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Sarah Rocks!!

    Thanks for more reporting on Palin!!! Love her, keep it up! no such thing as bad press right? hahaha

    September 15, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. conniesz

    When I saw that GW Bush was negative on Palin, I actually had a moment of respect for the man (there are/were other moments, but only rarely). Now the Republican spin machine is trying to deny that Bush had some real insight. Why not let the truth stand. I may not have liked Bush as a president, but I would happily choose him over Palin and her ilk any day.

    September 15, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. James Cunningham

    Finally, CNN gives a positive view about Governor Palin credence in a Political Ticker story! Now admit it. It didn't hurt that much did it? Get used to it. There will be many more positive stories and comments in the future dispite your elite media bias! Get over it!

    September 15, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Fred the Moderate

    Bush wasn't the only one. I never heard of palin. I still don't know who or what she is. i know she quit her job as gov. with 2 years left, that I know.

    September 15, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Kansan

    Is it possible NOT to see this twitt in the news for maybe at least one week?

    September 15, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. www.twitter,com/whybs

    *************

    "There is no air, no space between them," Recher said. "Sarah Palin is a big fan of George Bush, and she has said publicly she was proud he was Commander-in-Chief when her son Track was in Iraq."

    **************

    Best Friends are always like minded, think alike and work alike!!!

    The difference ::: Palin is a updated, technologically upgraded, idiot – she knows about twitter!! Bush ... huh huh, he would ask what critter !!

    September 15, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6