In Detroit, Jeb Bush Makes A Campaign Must-Stop : It's All Politics While he hasn't declared his 2016 candidacy yet, the former Florida governor spoke Wednesday at a preferred venue for presidential candidates.
NPR logo In Detroit, Jeb Bush Makes A Campaign Must-Stop

In Detroit, Jeb Bush Makes A Campaign Must-Stop

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at an Economic Club of Detroit meeting on Wednesday. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his "Right to Rise" tour. That's also the name of the political action committee he formed in December 2014 to allow him to explore a presidential run. Paul Sancya/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Paul Sancya/AP

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at an Economic Club of Detroit meeting on Wednesday. The Detroit event is the first in a series of stops that Bush's team is calling his "Right to Rise" tour. That's also the name of the political action committee he formed in December 2014 to allow him to explore a presidential run.

Paul Sancya/AP

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush isn't officially a presidential candidate, but by delivering a speech to the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday he sure acted like one.

The elite, nonpartisan organization is a must-stop for serious candidates — it has hosted every eventual president since Richard Nixon. The list of presidential contenders who've taken to the podium there in recent decades is long. Last year, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was among the speakers.

The club was founded in 1934 during the Great Depression by prominent Detroit businessman Alan Crow to hold Michigan gubernatorial and senatorial debates and talks by congressional and business leaders.

Its nearly 3,300 members include movers and shakers from Michigan's political and corporate worlds.

Historically, candidates like Jeb Bush have used the forum to outline their economic policies. It was during his 2012 DEC speech that Michigan native Mitt Romney famously listed all the cars he owned, including "a couple of Cadillacs." Romney's father, the automaker and former Michigan Gov. George Romney, spoke at the DEC with Nixon in the 1960s.

In 1992, Bill Clinton used the DEC platform for "a major economic address," which criticized President George H.W. Bush. A month later, Bush delivered his own address at the DEC to announce his economic agenda for his second term.

More recently, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in 2007 reprimanded Detroit auto giants from the DEC podium.

"We know that our oil addiction is jeopardizing our national security," he said. "Here in Detroit, three giants of American industry are hemorrhaging jobs and profits as foreign competitors answer the rising global demand for fuel-efficient cars."

"We politicians are afraid to ask the oil and auto industries to do their part, and those industries hire armies of lobbyists to make sure that the status quo remains," he said.