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Jeb Bush talks of plugging opportunity gap in Detroit speech

"I know for a fact, that if I'm gong to be successful, I'm going to have to do it on my own," Bush said.

By Frances Burns
Jeb Bush talks of plugging opportunity gap in Detroit speech
Jeb Bush at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. UPI File Photo by Ian Halperin | License Photo

DETROIT, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Detroit business leaders Wednesday government must "step up" or "stand aside" to narrow the opportunity gap.

Bush's speech to a Detroit Economic Club luncheon looked very much like a campaign stop. Bush has not formally declared he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but has taken several significant steps in that direction.

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His speech also echoed President Obama's State of the Union message.

"Today, Americans across the country are frustrated. They see only a small portion of the population riding the economy's up escalator," he said. "It's true enough that we've seen some recent and welcome good news on the economy. But it's very little, and it's come very late."

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Bush, speaking in one of the country's poorest cities, said that two-thirds of U.S. families live paycheck to paycheck and that record numbers are on food stamps and have incomes below the poverty line.

He called for improvement in education and said state and local governments should get more resources and the federal government less.

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If Bush becomes president, his family would be the first to have three close relatives winning the White House. But he said while he loves his father -- "the greatest man alive" -- and his older brother, he says he does not intend to get elected on their coattails.

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"I know for a fact, that if I'm gong to be successful, I'm going to have to do it on my own," he said.

Bush promised to go into the causes and possible solutions for the country's economic woes in the next few weeks.

"If Americans are working harder than ever, earning less than they once did, our government, our leaders, should step up, fix what went wrong, or step aside," he said.

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