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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Steph

    OMG, who cares! Stop it already! WE DON'T CARE!!!!

    September 15, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Chuck

    Who do you believe when two republicans are contradicting each other? Guess it's the one making the original accusation. The defenders are there only to spin the truth.

    September 15, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Jodi Smith

    Not knowing a whole lot about Latimer's book, it would still appear that he is being factual that Bush was not aware of Palin "before" she was tapped to run for vice president. Recher's comments seem to cover a time "after" Palin was picked to run, and of course, Bush would have been aware of her at that point, as most of the country was.
    Latimer's quoting Bush as he did sounds like something Bush would say. That would not preclude him throwing his support behind her though. A common occurrence in politics.

    September 15, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. diridi

    Bush and Palin both are the biggest "IDIOTS" now..and ever...

    September 15, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Marilyn

    This doesn't even make sense. Bush "threw open his arms" to Palin 3 WEEKS before she was added to the Republican ticket and called her "Madam Vice President". At this point in the game, McCain was still interviewing potential running mates, but Bush already knew???

    September 15, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Regressive Party Refugee (former republican)

    The dumb disputing the ignorant.

    September 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Matt Shine

    Given that he was once (and probably hopes to one day again) a aide to Sarah Palin, I'm not too surprised that he wants to make it so that his potential future employer is cast in the best possible light.

    Whatever people may think of George W Bush, by his seventh year in office, he would know by then well enough who is ready to be put on a national ticket and who is not. Palin was clearly not (and still isn't).

    September 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. andy

    Like Bush was ready for the national stage! Bush wasn't ready for the national stage all through his presidency. It is so great to have a president who can articulate clearly and actually speak sentences that are above a second grade level.

    September 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. shoegazer

    Most people probably wish she WAS the governor of Guam.

    September 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Fenarkleman

    Can she see Bush's head from her front window?

    September 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. RepublicanturnedDemocrat

    Clearly, someone is lying here.

    This time around, I would have to believe Bush! I really do believe that he had NO IDEA of who Palin was.

    She certainly was not well known to ANYONE at that time. Why would the president know who she was? Bush was WAY to busy to acknowlege her!

    Come on people. Just like Bush said, SHE IS NOT READY TO LEAD this country!!!!

    September 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Bea

    Who cares?

    September 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. JR

    So according to Recher, Bush knew Palin was to be picked before McCain knew he was going to pick her, I had no idea that the Shrub was clairvoyant.

    September 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. brad

    That doesn't make sense. She wasn't tapped yet for McCain's running mate during Bush's stop over. Odd.

    September 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Farrell in Houston

    Guess what, John McCain didn't know Palin either and that became his misfortune and I find it interesting that Bush has never mentioned Palin. Can't wait to purchase Latimere's book.

    September 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Thomas

    "What is she, the governor of Guam?'"

    No , Hong Kong !

    September 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. Joe in CA

    Neither Bush nor Palin had a clue who each other was meeting.

    September 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Len in Washington

    So....according to this guy, three weeks BEFORE Palin was announced by McCain as his running mate Bush greeted her as "Madam Vice-President?"
    1. Bush not McCain picked her for the ticket.
    2. Cheney not McCain picked her for the ticket.
    3. The guy making these claims is a flat out liar.

    hmmmm...let's see.....I go for "Liar."

    September 15, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Gus The Willie

    If Bushes comment are proven to be true, he will be right on item during his eight year presidency. Palin was tapped to run with the big dogs, but her bark only proved louder than her bite.

    September 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. rainbowbright

    I got from the GQ article that contained parts of Latimer's book that GWB was joking with the Guam comment.

    September 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Buzzy

    Who cares?

    September 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. single mom

    I'd be interested in finding out just when Latimer worked for former President Bush, how much access he actually had – as in did Bush know who Latimer was and what he did?

    September 15, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Frank Lee

    Bush and Clueless.

    A perfect match.

    September 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Bonji

    Bush likes to keep the other village idiots off his radar.

    September 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. Change_Has_Begun one knew this woman...what a joke she was for McCain campaign and what a joke she is for the Republicans...

    September 15, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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