MANATEE -- All eyes were on former Gov. Jeb Bush during a campaign stop for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Monday.
Bush has been coy about a potential 2016 presidential bid and continued his usual message at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, saying he would decide on whether he will run for the White House by the end of the year.
Others at the rally weren't as reserved.
"He's a bold leader, not just for the state of Florida but for the entire nation," said state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, while introducing Bush to the crowd of about 300. "And I hope one day to call him president."
Putnam continued on the same message after Bush left the stage.
"The next time we're together, two years from now, it won't be in this room, but it'll be in that giant airplane hangar for Jeb Bush for president of the United States," Putnam said, to cheers.
Bush talked equally about what needed to be done for Florida and for the nation. He said Florida's government was "doing it the right way," and that it needed to continue under Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
In contrast, Bush said Washington was doing it the wrong way and needed new leadership. He particularly emphasized keeping the House of Representatives under GOP control, taking the Senate and kicking out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"Call your friends in Iowa, Michigan, Louisiana ... anywhere there's a close race," Bush said. "And if we
do our part, we will have a Republican majority in the Senate, which is hugely important."
But despite his assertions for change in Washington, Bush gave no hint about personal plans.
"I'm not leaning (towards running or not running). I'm going to run based on if it's right for my family, can I do it in a way that I'm successful in the way that I serve and can I do it in a way that allows the next president to solve problems," Bush said. "That's a year-end decision."
Both local politicians and everyday citizens were hoping for another Bush name on the 2016 ticket. Jeff Phillips, a teacher from Fort Myers, said he came to get an autograph from Bush in case he decided to run.
"He's the frontrunner right now, so it's sort of an investment because presidential signatures are pretty valuable," he said. "I took the day off from work for this."
Manatee County commissioners Vanessa Baugh and Betsy Benac and state Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, all said they hoped Bush would run.
"It's looking promising," Baugh said.