(CNN) – It appears former President George W. Bush isn't following the Senate Republican primary in Florida as closely as many members of his party.
Bush, appearing at the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series on Tuesday, joked that he had never heard of Marco Rubio.
Rubio, of course, is the former Florida House Speaker and conservative favorite who recent polls suggest is locked in a tight race with Gov. Charlie Crist.
"Who the hell is Marco Rubio?" Bush said when asked about his thoughts on the election, according to local television station WINK.
Bush appeared to be joking, the station reported.
A spokesman for Bush told CNN the former president "of course knows who Marco Rubio is."
" He knows him, and he respects him," Spokesman David Sherzer said. "For anyone to use this quote out of context is a shame."
Jeb Bush, the ex-Florida governor and brother of the former president, also took part in the town hall event and said he is not taking sides in the divisive Senate primary.
While the national party quickly lined up behind Crist's candidacy last year, Rubio has won support from a steady stream of conservatives, most recently from Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Rubio heads to Washington later this week for a series of fundraisers and an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Committee.
I looked up conservative in the dictionary and it said something about having a preference to doing things the old way. With the evolution of the "tea-party" I have to wonder WHAT old things are they referring to. I know they want smaller government, but at what cost. Big government didn't just happen, it grew as a result of managing our changing society. People used to be more honest and responsible in business. Today it's evident that they are not. Govt had to step in and protect it's citizens, which is it's job. it's wishful thinking to want things the old way because it makes us feel safe, but it's not responsible to do things the old way if it doesn't meet the challenges of today. The world is changing and we have to keep up.
He didn't know gas was at $ 4.00 a gallon either.
Let the tea buggers throw the party of No inoto the hands of the right wing conservative nuts that American's do not support. They will be throwing away all hope of 2012 . Palin 2012 Laugh a lot!
Hey Mr. Bush who should be kinder to these people afterall these are the ones that voted for you twice! What a slap in the face....this is hilarious...............ha.ha.haha.....oh...my stomach hurts.