No 2016 Talk, But Jeb Bush Gives Three Pieces of Advice to Grads

Jeb Bush makes no mention of 2016 in early state, but gives advice to graduates.

ByABC News
December 15, 2014, 6:08 PM
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at commencement exercises for The University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., Dec. 15, 2014.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at commencement exercises for The University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., Dec. 15, 2014.
Tracy Glantz/AP Photo

— -- As he suggests interest in a possible 2016 presidential campaign, Jeb Bush gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina this afternoon and decided to take his mother’s advice, getting some laughs from the audience of graduates and families.

“As I was preparing my remarks I asked the chief adviser of all important things in the Bush family, Barbara Bush, what I should speak about and she thought about it briefly and said, ‘Jeb, speak about ten minutes and shut up,’” Bush said.

Bush, who is the focus of buzz and speculation about a potential 2016 run for the White House, didn’t mention his political future, but gave graduates three pieces of advice.

“Dream big, don’t be afraid of change and find joy everywhere you can,” Bush told the attendees.

He cautioned the possibly nervous graduates that once they leave school “every day is an exam, every day you will get graded.”

Bush’s speech in South Carolina, the first state in the South to vote in the country’s primary process, comes just a day after he told ABC's Miami affiliate WPLG he would not only release an e-book, but also 250,000 of his emails from his time in office. It's the clearest sign yet he is moving towards a possible run, a decision he said in the interview he would make “in short order.” He noted in the interview he “would be a good president.” Today was Bush’s second visit to the important early voting state in three months.

The email release is also being seen as a move towards transparency and one that his potential rivals might be pushed to match.

The former Florida governor made no other stops in the state, including no political events, besides meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, according to a Bush aide. The staffer said Haley and Bush know each other well and his education foundation has supported Haley’s work on education reform in South Carolina.

Bush’s work on education would likely be a focus of any presidential campaign, but his support for Common Core initiatives have angered more conservative members of the Republican Party, a group that tends to have outsize influence in some state primaries, including South Carolina's.

Bush told the graduates in Columbia, S.C., that his three pieces of advice are ones he learned “along life’s journey” and they “may relieve some of that anxiety and worry if you have it,” adding they are lessons “you can apply in any situation whether you decide to run a statehouse, a classroom, or a lemonade stand.”

He noted after his first lesson “dream big” that children often “model their lives on their parents.” But, he said, “I can tell you from personal experience, if your parents worked in politics, well you know the rest,” he said to laughs, before urging the crowd to break out of that pattern. “You don’t need to follow the pattern, you can do what you want to do. In fact, life is a lot better if you find your own reasons to do your own things.”

He urged the graduates not to be afraid of change and experimentation and “even fail because it’s part of life, it will definitely be part of yours.”

And in rounding out his important three, he mentioned his 90-year-old father, former President George H.W. Bush, as someone who consistently has fun, even when facing adversity.