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?'"