Updated 9:38 pm, Sunday, February 18, 2018
Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank Via Getty Images
AUSTIN – Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday night focused an hour-long speech here on criticizing President Donald Trump’s administration for undermining the nation’s role as a scientific leader but offered no new hints about whether he’ll run again for the White House
“We can not keep our position as the scientific leader of the world if we’re debating basic research on climate change,” Biden told more than 1,000 people attending the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference.
Biden said he was alarmed that Trump went a whole year without a science adviser, the longest any president has gone without the position filled since the 1970s.
“It is unacceptable that after a year in office our current president has no science adviser, no director of the office of science and technology policy,” Biden said.
Biden also warned the crowd that the administration is not doing enough to continue the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative he helped spearhead under President Barack Obama. Biden helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides $1.8 billion over seven years to invest in the fight against cancer.
“There’s not any sense of urgency there, not surprisingly,” Biden said of the Trump White House.
Biden has become a prominent voice in cancer research. Biden and his wife Jill Biden launched the Biden Cancer Initiative in 2017 to speed advances in cancer research and care.
Last year he wrote a book focused on his son Beau Biden’s battle with cancer. In the book, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose” and during public speeches including one last year in Sugar Landnear Houston last year, Biden specifically praised the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for taking care of his late son. Beau Biden died in 2015 at 46.
Biden was speaking on Sunday to the AAAS, a non-profit group focused on increasing public understanding of science and engaging policymakers on issues regarding science.
His appearance comes at a time of growing speculation about whether he will run for president again. The Associated Press reported that Biden recently told longtime policy aides that a White House campaign in 2020 is a real possibility. According to the AP, Biden met with several aides at his office near Capitol Hill to plan for his new diplomacy center. During the meeting, he reportedly told those in attendance — including his former chief of staff, his former national security adviser and a former State Department official — that he had not decided about 2020.
He indicated to his longtime aides that he’d be interested in them joining his campaign if he decides to make a run for the White House, The Associated Press reported.
Jeremy Wallace writes about state politics and government for the Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter at @JeremySWallace.