During the deliberations, Romney and Bush met once at Romney’s Utah home on Jan. 22. Romney arrived armed with a mountain of polling data that his team had collected, which seemed to shape his view of the race. Romney shared the information as a way of explaining his motivation to think about running again.

A former Romney campaign donor had commissioned an extraordinarily robust portfolio of private polling data culled from interviews this month with thousands of voters in some 20 states. “The level of support was broad and deep,” a Romney associate said…

The Kochel decision shook some in the Romney campaign — and stung as well. According to Romney sources, he was on a number of strategy conference calls with other Romney senior advisers and had encouraged Romney to run again. One Romney associate said the team sees Kochel’s defection as a Benedict Arnold moment.

Kochel, in a telephone interview Friday, said, “It’s incorrect to say I urged him to run and I didn’t say I would not go to work for Gov. Bush. . . . I have tremendous respect and affection for Gov. Romney and his family.” Once he received a direct offer from Bush, Kochel said, he stopped participating in Romney deliberations and personally told Romney of his decision.