Jeb Bush Continues To Test Campaign Waters In Detroit : It's All Politics Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush isn't an official candidate for president yet. But his speech Wednesday to the Detroit Economic Club got his feet wet.
NPR logo

Jeb Bush Continues To Test Campaign Waters In Detroit

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/383860423/383860424" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Jeb Bush Continues To Test Campaign Waters In Detroit

Jeb Bush Continues To Test Campaign Waters In Detroit

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/383860423/383860424" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Jeb Bush is not officially a candidate for president yet. But today he delivered what felt like the first major speech of his increasingly likely campaign for the White House. And he did it not in Iowa or New Hampshire, the first caucus in primary states, but in Detroit. Joining us from Detroit is NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea. Hey there, Don.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Hi there.

CORNISH: So to start, why Detroit?

GONYEA: It's an interesting choice. He could have done it in Des Moines or Manchester. But if you want to talk about economic opportunity and those Americans who feel that they've been left behind by the slow pace of the recovery, this is a good place to do it. He talked about people wondering if there's an escalator anywhere that will lift them up.

Of course, Detroit's car companies are coming back. They're making big profits. The city has emerged from bankruptcy. And there's a pretty good feeling in this town now, but it's still a place that's paying for its past troubles, which Jeb Bush pointed out. He said those troubles came about because of decades of mismanagement and empty promises. And he warned that what happened in Detroit is something that the rest of the country could learn a lot from.

CORNISH: And this isn't the first time a member of the Bush family has delivered a closely-watched speech at the Detroit Economic Club, right? I mean, did he mention the advantages or disadvantages of the family name?

GONYEA: His father, the president, has spoken here. His brother the president has spoken here. He did mention the family name. It came up several times. At one point during the Q&A - and what they do for the Q&A is they have people fill out index cards on the tables, and they get passed up to the moderator. But the moderator reads one and says so your last name is Bush. And Jeb Bush responds so I've been told. And then he went on with this...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEB BUSH: I love my dad. In fact, my dad is the greatest man alive. And I love my brother, and I think he's been a great president. It doesn't bother me a bit to be proud of them and love them. But I know for a fact that if I'm going to be successful going beyond the consideration, then I'm going to have to do it on my own.

GONYEA: And again, when he says beyond the consideration, he's saying I haven't decided yet if I'm going to run, though everybody assumes he is in this room. And if anybody thought he'd distance himself from his brother George W - not so.

CORNISH: One more thing, Don, you know, we've been hearing today and in the last few days, frankly, about the vaccination debate. It seems like it took center stage in the 2016 presidential campaign discussion. Wheat did Jeb Bush have to say?

GONYEA: It's odd that it's become like the first hot-button issue of the campaign. And recall that Senator Rand Paul said that vaccinations should be voluntary. Governor Chris Christie said parents should have a choice. In this piece of tape, first you'll hear the moderator asking the question - nobody was surprised that it came up - and then you'll hear from Jeb Bush.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MODERATOR: Vaccinations are in the news. A few potential presidential candidates have stumbled on that issue this week. What's your opinion on vaccinations?

BUSH: Parents ought to make sure their children's - children are vaccinated.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: And what's key here is how short that is. He doesn't say and each parent should make that decision. He says parents ought to make sure their children are vaccinated. And he went on just a little bit and then he said over and out, basically saying don't misinterpret what I've said.

CORNISH: Don, you've heard so many of these speeches. In the end, how do you feel about the response? How did the speech go over?

GONYEA: It went over well. This is the kind of place where Jeb Bush would go over well. He's an establishment figure. This is an establishment, pro-business crowd - the Detroit Economic Club - very august institution founded in 1934. He was well received. People I talked to afterward gave him very high marks. They were glad he came.

CORNISH: That's NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea speaking to us from Detroit. Don, thanks so much.

GONYEA: It's my pleasure.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.