This headline from Reuters really tickled my imagination: “Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush to meet privately in Utah on Thursday.”

I immediately envisioned a heavily negotiated showdown in some abandoned shack at the edge of the Great Salt Desert, with the two would-be-presidents being frisked for sidearms before entering the dimly lit room for an unrecorded tete-a-tete.

The underlying story from Steve Holland doesn’t tell us exactly where the two Establishment titans will get together. But he does note that the meet is happening when many other prominent 2016 candidates are beginning to make their way to Des Moines for Steve King’s vet-a-thon. Bush and Romney bowed out, citing a scheduling conflict. This could be it. “Sorry, Steve, I’d love to be there–Des Moines is lovely this time of year. But I gotta go play rock-paper-scissors with (Jeb/Mitt) and maybe get some elbow room. Later.”

How will they deal with the fact that they are tripping over each other in pursuit of the same donors? I dunno, unless they have resolved that only one of them will emerge from the meeting as a presidential candidate. Or maybe they really do need a mutual reason to skip King’s nasty little trap of a “summit.”

UPDATE: Jonathan Martin of the New York Times reports the meeting was set up by Jeb Bush as a “respect” gesture towards Romney long before Mitt lurched back into the picture for 2016. I think it’s safe to say the agenda has changed.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.