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Published Dec. 16, 2014

Right after Jeb Bush finished speaking to graduates at the University of South Carolina on Monday, a Democratic opposition research group tweeted that it was there watching.

"Nice but typical commencement speech you gave. Hope you're well. All the best," wrote the president of the group American Bridge.

Bush naturally steered clear of any 2016 presidential talk, but the growing prospect of him running attracted a lot of outside eyes on what was indeed a nice, conventional speech.

His advice to the winter graduates was in effect to seek what he is searching for from his impending decision: joy.

The former Republican governor of Florida offered three pillars of advice: Don't let anyone tell you how big to dream; don't be afraid to experiment and change, and even fail; no matter how many challenges, remember to have fun.

But, he went on, "Life isn't always about the happy moments. Everyone faces adversity eventually. You won't get the job you wanted. A friend might disappoint you. Someone you love will leave this world way too early. But those things we can't control. We can control how we react. If you're able to find joy in life wherever you can, I can promise you this: Joy will find you. ..."

Bush has said he'll run for president if he can do so "joyfully."

"Create in your own life and community the joy and optimism we find so lacking today in the public debates. Serve others with that spirit. Inspire in others those qualities that make for a happy life, a well-lived life, a life of opportunity."

Bush's speech came after a weekend of new speculation following a Miami TV interview in which he said he was writing an e-book and would release 250,000 emails from his terms as governor - a strong sign he is preparing for the scrutiny of a campaign, even if the records are already public record.

His tenure as governor led the university to bestow him with an honorary doctoral degree in public service, noting work in education reform and the economy and "policies that bring about solutions."

"I can't wait to get home and tell Columba I'm a doctor now. This is huge," Bush joked, referring to his wife.

He said that he asked his mother what to speak about and then added, "She thought about it briefly and said 'Jeb speak about 10 minutes and then sit down and shut up.' "

He ran a little over 10 minutes.