Bono Goes to Washington

U2 frontman Bono was one of 26 special guests invited by first lady Jill Biden at the State of the Union Address Tuesday night (Feb. 7).

Bono took his seat in her box next to Paul Pelosi – the husband of former House speaker Nancy Pelosi – who was beaten with a hammer at the couple’s home.

The singer, activist and cofounder of the ONE Campaign – an organization that works with governments to fight poverty and preventable disease –was invited to honor his work and advocacy on behalf of global health, poverty, and AIDS. His RED foundation has raised more than $700m from businesses to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

President Joe Biden did not mention Bono by name, but alluded to the rock star recognizing “countless advocates and champions” in helping to “transform the global fight against HIV/AIDS” and called for the same fight against cancer, as the camera panned to the rock star on screen.

“It’s been a huge success. I believe we can do the same with cancer. Let’s end cancer as we know it and cure some cancers once and for all,” he said

The White House released a statement last week describing Bono as “a groundbreaking activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty”.

“Working in concert with other activists, he played a pivotal role building public and bipartisan political support for the creation of PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), a program announced by President Bush in his State of the Union twenty years ago, and championed by then-Senator Biden,” it read.

“PEPFAR is credited with revolutionizing the provision of life-saving HIV medications in poorer countries and saving 25 million lives worldwide.”

Other guests of the first lady included the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old man who was killed last month by Memphis police, Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. who was a guest last year when Biden spoke days after the Russian invasion of her country. She returned to the first lady’s box as Biden seeks to sustain U.S. and allied support for Ukraine.

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