Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional speech to a packed auditorium at South by South West in Austin, Texas. This was Biden’s first major public appearance since leaving the White House.
“Your generation can be the first generation on Earth that goes through life with cancer as a preventable or controllable disease as opposed to a death sentence,” Biden said.
Biden shared his vision for a future where cancer is a treatable and preventable disease. “I am unable to postpone for one day longer the things we can do now to extend people’s lives,” he said. “We can make enormous progress.”
Biden also spoke of the importance of federal budgets for cancer research.
“Billions and billions of dollars comes from taxpayers,” he said. “Your government, that many of you don’t like, is the vehicle of how this gets done.”
In a stirring moment, Biden spoke about his eldest son, Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of 46 in 2015. Biden recalled how his son’s death lead him to decide not to run for president. “Neither Jill or I, we didn’t have the stomach,” he said. “No one should run for president of the United States unless they are prepared to give every ounce of their energy to that undertaking.”
Biden said he’d told President Barack Obama his only regret about not running: “I would have loved to be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it.”
The hour-long speech focused on fighting the disease and was apolitical. Biden only made a passing reference to Donald Trump to express his frustration about an administration that doesn’t believe in climate change. He brought up the environment when talking about harmful chemicals in the environment that can lead to cancer.
Biden and his wife, Jill, who introduced him, both received a standing ovation.
The couple’s charitable organization, the Biden Foundation, advocates many of the issues dear to Biden during his decades-long career in politics, including cancer research, military families, access to continuing education, and combating violence against women.
You can watch the entire speech here.