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Benjamin Bailey

Jeb Bush wants to set the record straight: He wasn’t “wandering” around the streets of Boston this week — he was just coming back from a meal, and headed for his hotel.

After an excitable Emerson College student, Benjamin Bailey, posted a lengthy tale about running into Bush on Boylston Street Tuesday night, under cover of darkness, the former Republican presidential candidate said in an e-mail to the Globe that he was merely going from Point A to Point B, not taking a leisurely summer stroll in solitude.

“I wasn’t wandering,” Bush said, adding a smiley-face emoticon to his response. “I was walking back from dinner to my hotel when I met the young guy.”

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Bush signed the e-mail, “Onward, Jeb.”

Jeb Bush used a smiley emoticon in his e-mail to Globe reporter Steve Annear.
Jeb Bush used a smiley emoticon in his e-mail to Globe reporter Steve Annear.

When asked why he was in town, Bush merely replied, “Business” — and then stopped e-mailing.

The story of Bush’s quiet visit to Boston was shared by Bailey, a 19-year-old acting major at Emerson, on Facebook this week. Based on a sweep of social media, he appears to be the only person who documented Bush’s presence here.

Bailey’s account of meeting Bush was shared widely — including on Reddit and Twitter — and included a selfie with the former Florida governor.

In a telephone interview, Bailey recounted what he likened to finding “the ultimate Pokemon GO” character in the wild.

Bailey said he was leaving his Emerson dorm on Boylston Street when he suddenly spotted a rather tall man in business attire striding down the block holding a box of what looked like papers (this description jibes with Bush’s claims that he was here on business).

“I see that, and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Bailey. “So I froze, and I could only muster the word, ‘whoa.’ ”

Still unsure if the man he saw was Bush — there was no security accompanying the man, which seemed odd to Bailey — the Emerson student pursued the gentleman on foot, catching up with him near 62 Boylston St.

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Bailey said as he approached Bush, he called out his name. He turned around.

“Yes,” Bush replied, Bailey said.

“I didn’t know what to say, I was at a loss,” said Bailey, who noted several times that Bush was dressed as though he had just walked off the debate stage, an American flag pinned to his lapel. “I was so starstruck, and surprised that no one else really stopped him.”

Unsure of what to say, Bailey blurted out that he respected Bush for standing up to Donald Trump during the Republican debates, when bickering presidential candidates lobbed insults at one another.

Bush had a simple reply, he said: “Well, thank you.”

“And then I asked for a picture,” said Bailey, which he later shared online. “The whole situation was surreal.”

After Bush’s departure, Bailey remembered that for a side project he had created and printed out a fake Emerson student identification card with Bush’s picture and name on it. Realizing his mistake in not giving it to Bush at the moment they met, he dashed off to again find him.

“I lost him down a dark alley in Chinatown,” Bailey claims. “Just walking off into the night. Jeb Bush. It was like an apparition.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.

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