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On the anniversary of JFK's 'man on the moon' speech, Biden touts 'cancer moonshot'

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Biden is setting a goal to cut the death rate from cancer in half over the next quarter century. NPR's Asma Khalid reports.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Sixty years ago, John F. Kennedy gave a speech committing to putting a man on the moon. On the anniversary of that famous speech, President Biden outlined his own moonshot at the Kennedy Library in Boston.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And in choosing to go to the moon, President Kennedy said America was doing so, quote, "not because it was easy, but because it was hard."

KHALID: Biden has sought to paint cancer in a similar vein, a cause that might unite Americans or create a sense of national purpose.

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BIDEN: Now, in our time, on the 60th anniversary of his clarion call, we face another inflection point.

KHALID: The president is also naming a director of the new agency known as ARPA-H to improve the government's biomedical research, and he signed an executive order to ensure more biotech treatments are developed and manufactured in the United States. Biden lost his son Beau to cancer in 2015, and so part of this is personal. But it's also an issue Biden believes can unite the country, and he's been on a mission to figure out how to do that.

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BIDEN: Cancer does not discriminate red and blue. It doesn't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. Beating cancer is something we can do together.

KHALID: The goal is to cut the number of deaths due to cancer, turn more cancer diagnoses into chronic diseases that people can live with, and create more supportive environments for patients and families.

Asma Khalid, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF PINO PALLADINO AND BLAKE MILLS' "DJURKEL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.