In his final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Obama promised to launch a major initiative to cure cancer.
Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to lead the effort.
The president announced the plan after praising American innovations in science and technology. Obama then pointed out that Biden personally lobbied Congress to increase cancer funding in the government spending bill that passed at the end of last year.
“We can do so much more, and last year Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade,” Obama said.
Obama also cited Biden’s long political career.
“Tonight I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control,” Obama said.
Obama said the effort would be dedicated to “the loved ones we’ve all lost” and “the families that we can still save.”
“Let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” he said.
Obama then turned to Biden.
“What do you say, Joe?” he asked.
Biden smiled and gestured enthusiastically.
Beau Biden, the vice president’s son, passed away in May after a battle with brain cancer. In an interview with CNN that aired on Tuesday before Obama’s speech, Biden said the president offered his family financial help as they dealt with Beau’s illness. Obama also delivered the eulogy at Beau’s funeral. In the interview, Biden described the president’s emotional reaction to Beau’s death.
“It’s personal,” Biden said. “It’s family.”