Romney didn’t have to declare his candidacy, but the team told him it was important to send a signal to donors and potential staff that he was very serious. Jeb Bush was calling around, trying to poach both. One person on the call compared to the situation to an hourglass: the longer you wait, the more people would be picked off.

The governor said at the end of the discussion that he would show his hand either way by the end of the week.

“We were waiting for the green light,” said a top adviser on the call. “We knew that he was serious, but he had not given us the green light to begin reaching out and assemble staff, or to form some kind of an entity that would allow him to run. We were waiting for him to give us the high sign.”