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Lansing — Jeb Bush promised to visit Michigan more while touting his “proven” experience and ability to get things done in eight years as Florida’s governor, sounding like the 2016 presidential candidate he hasn’t officially become.

Bush said he intends to spend a lot more time in Michigan “if I decide to go forward as a candidate” in a visit to a Lansing plant that’s the exclusive supplier of anthrax vaccine to the military.

“I think there are a lot of people who think you can’t do anything anymore in Washington, D.C., and I would urge people to reconsider that,” Bush told reporters.

During his Lansing-area visit, Bush followed the “right to rise” theme he premiered during a February speech at the Detroit Economic Club. There, he advocated reforms “rooted in conservative principles and tethered to our shared belief in opportunity and the unknown possibilities of a nation given the freedom to act, to create, to dream and to rise.”

His evening remarks took on a partisan tone before an audience of more than 400 Clinton and Ingham county Republicans at a Lincoln Day dinner at Eagle Eye Golf Club’s banquet center north of Lansing.

Bush blasted the Obama administration over America’s $18 trillion debt and lowered bond rating, compared to his tax cuts and the triple-A bond rating Florida gained when he was governor.

He accused the president of “leading from behind” during an “unraveling of the world” and botching relationships with allies ranging from France to Canada.

The brother of ex-President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush is assembling a war chest and gearing up for a presumed campaign in a congested Republican primary field.

Bush said he visited the Emergent BioSolutions vaccine plant based on bad memories of an anthrax scare at the offices of the National Inquirer in Florida during his governorship. He said a lot less was known about how to deal with anthrax contamination when his gubernatorial administration confronted the crisis.

The lesson, he said, is there’s no substitute for the learning that comes from facing problems and solving them.

“I have lots of experience, a proven record as a conservative, as Florida’s governor that people don’t know about,” Bush said in an interview. “

The United States brims with innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, Bush said, but is handicapped by over-regulation and policies designed for an agrarian America that existed more than 50 years ago, rather than the 21st century.

During an employee question-and-answer session following his tour of Emergent BioSolutions, Bush called for lower business taxes, a more accountable education system and immigration reforms that will lead more foreign students to stay here once they’re educated at U.S. universities.

Bush said the Affordable Care Act took the country in the wrong direction. His solution would feature higher insurance deductibles, lower premiums and catastrophic illness protection, he said, but personal choices rather than mandated coverages.

“I think we’d end up with far less cost if we had a system where people were more engaged with their health care decisions,” he said. “And where healthy lifestyle decisions were rewarded not only with better health but lower costs.”

GHeinlein@detroitnews.com

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