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Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney hold private meeting

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are gathering in Utah as the two grow closer to a 2016 confrontation.

Potential presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush gathered in Utah Thursday for a one-on-one meeting, a spokesman for Bush confirmed to msnbc. 

The summit, first reported by the The New York Times, comes as the two candidates are aggressively exploring possible White House campaigns. Bush and Romney occupy a similar space in the party's establishment wing and the competition between them to lock down donors, staff and endorsements is already looking fierce.  

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"The meeting has long been planned," Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told msnbc in an e-mail. "Governor Bush looks forward to visiting with Governor Romney."

They may have a lot to discuss. A report in Politico last month indicated that Romney's renewed interest in the race, which caught many observers off guard, was in part due to concerns that Bush was a weak candidate who would fall prey to likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination Hillary Clinton in a general election. 

It's early in the race, but the first round of polls suggest both potential candidates have hard work ahead in building up their image with voters. An NBC/WSJ poll this week found only 27% of respondents had a positive view of Romney versus 40% who had a negative one while Bush's split was 19% positive, 32% negative. A new Washington Post/ABC poll on Thursday found both trailing Clinton by significant margins, Bush 54-41 and Romney 55-40, with respondents expressing concerns about Romney's 2012 campaign performance and Bush's family ties to former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.