President Joe Biden sought to deliver a unifying speech in Boston on Monday, focused on his ‘Moonshot’ initiative to reduce cancer deaths in the United States – a step that is part of an accelerated travel program highlighting achievements of his administration ahead of the midterm elections.
Biden told an audience at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston that his goal was to reduce cancer death rates by at least 50% over the next 25 years. The president also said he wanted to “create a more supportive experience for patients and families.”
The president – who lost his son to brain cancer – spoke in personal and passionate terms about his goal, which he called “bold, ambitious” and “very achievable”.
“Cancer does not distinguish between red and blue. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together,” the president said when discussing the administration’s efforts to halve the number of cancer deaths in the United States over the next 25 years.
Biden’s speech came on the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s original “Moonshot” speech, in which he unveiled his goal of landing a man on the moon.
Here’s What Has Been Accomplished Since JFK’s “Moonshot” Speech
“When he set that goal, he set a national goal that could unite the American people in common cause and he succeeded,” Biden said of Kennedy. “Now in our time, on the 60th anniversary of his bugle call, we face another inflection point. And together, we can choose to move forward with unity, hope and optimism. And I believe that we can usher in the same reluctance to postpone – the same national goal that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills to end cancer as we know it and even cure cancers once and for all.
To “break the deadlocks” in Congress, Biden said he would use his powers as president to increase funding for cancer research.
The president also announced that Dr. Renee Wegrzyn will become the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which is a new agency that aims to “drive biomedical innovation that supports the health of all Americans.” He is also expected to sign an executive order that will launch a national biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative, the White House said.
The midterm elections are less than 60 days away and Biden’s trip to Boston is his latest effort to capitalize on the political momentum spurred by recent legislative achievements and lower gas prices.
Earlier Monday, the president highlighted projects made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act at Terminal E at Boston Logan International Airport. The new Infrastructure Act spending, he said, will create more than 5,000 jobs, increase capacity and increase accessibility at the airport.
Biden, at the airport, stressed the importance of competing with other countries like China in addition to rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
“We risk losing our edge as a nation to China, and the rest of the world is catching up with us. It stops now, with investments like the ones we are celebrating here today,” the president said.
Biden said, “People, America invented modern aviation. But we have let our airports fall behind our competitors. Today, not a single isolated American airport, not a single one, ranked in the world’s top 25. The United States of America. No airport ranks among the top 25 in the world. What’s with us? It means trade, it means income, it means security.
Investments in the airport include $50 million to upgrade Terminal E and $12 million to improve roads. The President said that in addition to being frustrating and inconvenient for passengers, traffic congestion and airport runway delays cause air pollution that harms the environment and directly affects nearby communities.
Biden told reporters on Monday before his trip to Boston, “We are finally going to get the infrastructure to start working. We’re making a major investment, as you know, in a major city with an airport that’s really behind, as most are. And we’re going to spend a lot of money and we’re going to do it fast, and we’re going to go all over America to make our airports the best in the world.
Monday evening, the president also participated in a reception for the Democratic National Committee organized at the home of Jonathan Lavine, the co-manager of Bain Capital.
In remarks at the event, according to reporters in the room, the president ticked off what he considers his administrative accomplishments – including major legislative victories, lower gas prices and a reduction in the ‘inflation. He also sought to highlight how the nation stands at an “inflection point” in history.
“The fact is, extreme Republicans are going to set us back,” Biden said, adding that “there’s a lot at stake and we have to choose a different path.”
Biden warned the group, “If we lose the House and lose the Senate, it will be a really tough two years. I will spend more time with the veto pen.
The president pointed to a poll showing his approval rating had improved, but added: “I don’t know how that stands.”
“But I know…people are starting to focus on what’s going on,” he continued. “We have to stay in the game. We have to stay in a big way. … There’s a lot at stake. … I don’t want to start from scratch.
The event had about 40 attendees and was expected to raise $2 million for the DNC and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, according to a DNC official.
Biden’s schedule for the rest of the week, as outlined by the White House, includes a White House celebration for the passage of the Cut Inflation Act — a $750 billion bill on healthcare, taxes and the climate – plus a trip to the key battleground state of Michigan.
This story has been updated with additional details.