Jeb Bush, in a speech in economically distressed Detroit aimed at linking conservatism to the realization of Americans’ aspirations, called today for reforms that he said would reverse “the failures of liberal government.”

“Let’s embrace reform everywhere, especially in our government,” the former Florida governor said in a luncheon speech to the Detroit Economic Club designed to begin to lay out themes of a campaign for next year’s Republican nomination for president.

“Let’s start with the simple principle of who holds the power,” Bush said, according to excerpts of remarks as prepared for delivery. “I say give Washington less and give states and local governments more.”

Dominant voices in the media have advanced the idea that “conservatives don’t care about the cities,” Bush said. In one of many references to an American “right to rise,” he added:

But they are wrong. We believe that every American and every community has a right to pursue happiness. They have a right to rise. So I say: Let’s go where our ideas can matter most. Where the failures of liberal government are most obvious. Let’s deliver real conservative success.

The result, Bush added: “a whole lot of new conservatives.”

He specifically mentioned the energy, manufacturing, health care and technology sectors as subjects for future policy addresses anchored in “conservative principles.”

“The progressive and liberal mindset believes that to every problem there is a Washington, D.C., solution,” @JebBush says.

“The progressive and liberal mindset believes that to every problem there is a Washington, D.C., solution,” Bush said in a speech lasting just over 20 minutes. “But that instinct doesn’t solve any problem, other than the problem of how to keep Washington’s regional economy well lubricated.”

Michigan likely will hold its GOP presidential primary in late March, making it a significant prize.

“The progress Detroit has made because of Republican leadership is undeniable, so it makes perfect sense for potential presidential candidates both to come and share their vision for our country, and learn from the results we’ve achieved,” the state’s Republican Party chairman, Bobby Schostak, said in a statement to the Detroit News.

Bush recently formed two political action committees, both using the words “Right to Rise,” to raise money and otherwise further a bid for the presidency.

While in Detroit, he planned to meet privately with potential donors and political supporters, “gauging interest for a potential run for president,” spokesman Kristy Campbell told the Detroit News.

The son and younger brother of previous presidents, Bush was seen as getting a big boost Friday when the Republican Party’s 2012 standard-bearer, Mitt Romney, announced that he would not seek the nomination a third time.

“Tens of millions of Americans no longer see a clear path to rise above their challenges.”–@JebBush in Detroit

Bush’s likely Republican rivals to his right include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Some two dozen potential GOP candidates are looking at a race; none has announced.

Other excerpts from Bush’s prepared remarks provided by his

How do we restore America’s faith in the moral promise of our great nation that any child born today can reach further than their parents? This is an urgent issue: Far too many Americans live on the edge of economic ruin. And many more feel like they’re stuck in place, working longer and harder, even as they’re losing ground. Tens of millions of Americans no longer see a clear path to rise above their challenges.

Six years after the recession ended, median incomes are down, households are, on average, poorer … and millions of people have given up looking for a job altogether. Roughly two out of three American households live paycheck to paycheck. Any unexpected expense can push them into financial ruin. We have a record number of Americans on food stamps and living in poverty.

The recovery has been everywhere but in the family paychecks. The American Dream has become a mirage for far too many. So the central question we face here in Detroit and across America is this: Can we restore that dream — that moral promise — that each generation can do better?

Our nation has always valued such economic freedom because in economic freedom, each citizen has the power to propel themselves forward and upward. This really isn’t understood in Washington, D.C. And you can see why: It’s a company town. And the company is government. It’s all they know. For several years now, they have been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work and the rewards of work.

There’s a better way. Let’s define this path first by the core principles of a Right to Rise society because once we do that, the policies, the laws and the way forward will be much clearer.

This morning, 320 million Americans got up … and they are on 320 million different paths of life. It’s our goal to see them succeed. And it’s our responsibility to do everything possible to help them. Because by their success, they will not only build prosperity for themselves. They will renew the promise of this nation when everyone has the right to rise.

>>> Watch the speech and Q&A on C-SPAN.