Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is assembling the pieces of a presidential run, met with Boston business heavyweights and former Mitt Romney backers Friday to raise money for his rapidly growing political operation.
Bush was hosted by Putnam Investments chief executive Robert Reynolds for a luncheon at the firm’s downtown offices, a move that took some in the local Republican establishment by surprise.
Reynolds donated $200,000 last election to Restore Our Future, the super PAC that backed Romney, who gave signs on Friday that he is considering a third presidential candidacy.
Former US senator Scott Brown, a longtime Romney supporter who unsuccessfully sought a New Hampshire Senate seat last year, tweeted a photo of himself and his wife, Gail, with Bush, saying they had discussed “2016 possibilities.”
Bush became at least the third prominent Republican being discussed for a 2016 bid to visit Boston in less than 24 hours. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, attended Governor Charlie Baker’s inauguration Thursday.
Separately Friday, Romney told a group of potential donors in Manhattan that he was seriously considering a 2016 candidacy, which would be his third.
The son of one president and brother of another, Jeb Bush has launched a fund-raising blitz in recent weeks for both a leadership PAC and a super PAC.
The former two-term governor of Florida, Bush is seen as a candidate who could draw backing from the party’s establishment wing, which helped Romney turn back a number of challenges from the social conservative bloc in 2012.
Bush’s Boston stop came as various Republican candidates are hoping to pick off portions of Romney’s 2012 coalition, and particularly his financial network, large swaths of which were rooted in the Boston business world.
Also in attendance for Bush’s Putnam visit, according to people familiar with the event, were Bank of America director Chad Gifford, a major Obama donor whose son Rufus was finance director for the president’s reelection; Christopher Egan, founder of Carruth Capital and son of the late US ambassador to Ireland Richard Egan; and Jim Koch, founder of the Samuel Adams beer company.
Bush did not discuss any other prospective candidates, instead saying he was seriously considering a campaign and wanted to take the necessary measures to prepare, said one of the people familiar with the meeting.