“It would be such a tough thing to do to tell either one of them ’no,’ ” said Barry Wynn, a top fundraiser for Mr. Romney in 2012 and for former President George W. Bush. “I don’t know what I would have done. This would have been a very difficult decision to make.”
Mr. Wynn said he now plans to throw his support behind Mr. Bush.
His decision echoes the choice many donors are making in the wake of Friday’s news. Dirk van Dongen, who raised nearly $1.5 million for Mr. Romney’s campaign in 2012, said the Republican fundraisers he had spoken with in recent weeks were conflicted over backing Mr. Romney or Mr. Bush. “Some of them said, ‘Hey, I’d be with Jeb Bush except for the fact that I need to know what Mitt Romney is going to do.’ “
Following Friday’s announcement, Mr. van Dongen said, “presumably those people will now sign onto the Bush initiative.”
“It simplifies the calculation,” added Mr. van Dongen, who said he committed to back Mr. Bush even before Mr. Romney said he was considering a bid.
Fundraisers said Mr. Bush stands to benefit the most from Mr. Romney’s departure from the field, but many also pointed to the brightened prospects for [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie, who would also seek support from donors in the party’s “establishment” wing.
Reports suggest that Romney may be dining with Christie and might even offer an endorsement. Would that reverse the momentum? I doubt it.