For Joe Biden and his inner circle, it always seemed that the crowning achievement of his long, successful political career would be the presidency. As a senator from Delaware, Biden got close—he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988 and 2008, and flirted with runs other times. He helped Barack Obama win the White House and keep it for a second term. But with today’s announcement that he won’t campaign for the presidential nomination in 2016, Biden is left to find another capstone to his career.
In his statement in the Rose Garden, the vice president offered a good indication what that will be: the fight against cancer. He ticked off many areas he remains interested in—the skeleton of the campaign he won’t run—like helping the middle class, campaign-finance reform, LGBT rights, income inequality. But the most impassioned and personal passage were his comments about the disease that killed his son Beau this spring:
I believe we need a moon shot in this country to cure cancer. It’s personal. But I know we can do this. The president and I have already been working hard on increasing funding for research and development because there are so many breakthroughs just on the horizon in science and medicine, the things that are just about to happen, and we can make them real, with an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today. And I’m going to spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to accomplish this, because I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who share our passion—our passion to silence this deadly disease.
Biden continued, “If I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president that ended cancer, because it’s possible”—a fitting bridge between the old dream of The White House and his new goal.