Video of Biden talking about cancer leaves out important context

The claim: Joe Biden claimed his administration ‘ended cancer’

A July 25 Instagram video (direct link, archive link) shows a screenshot of a post from X, formerly Twitter, featuring a short clip of President Joe Biden giving a speech.

“Biden: ‘I said I’d cure cancer they looked at me like, why cancer? Because we can. We ended cancer as we know it.'” reads text in the post.

The video’s caption reads, “The dementia is so bad that Joe Biden thinks he cured cancer.”

The video was liked more than 10,000 times in three days. The original post on X was also liked more than 4,000 times, and similar posts were shared on Facebook.

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Our rating: False

Biden wasn’t claiming his administration had a cure for cancer. The clip excludes a portion of his speech that makes it clear he was speaking hypothetically, explaining what he would like to accomplish if he “could do anything at all.”

Biden has history of talking about ‘fight to end cancer’

The clip in the post is from a July 25 speech Biden gave at the White House. But Biden wasn’t saying he or his administration had already discovered a cure for cancer.

Instead, Biden was speaking hypothetically, saying if he “could do anything at all,” he would cure cancer. A White House transcript of Biden’s speech puts his comment in context, making it clear he wasn’t claiming to have “ended” cancer.

“One of the things I’m always asked is … ‘If you could do anything at all, Joe, what would you do?’ I said, ‘I’d cure cancer.’ And they looked at me like, ‘Why cancer?’ Because no one thinks we can. That’s why. And we can,” he said, according to the transcript.

Then, the transcript quotes Biden as saying, “We can end cancer as we know it.” While that seems to be what Biden intended to say, a video shared by the White House of his full speech reveals he mumbled the phrase somewhat and may have said, “We end cancer as we know it,” or “We ended cancer as we know it.”

Still, there is no evidence that Biden was claiming to have found a cure for cancer. The sentences before that statement make clear Biden was speaking of a hypothetical future, critical context the Instagram post omits. The rest of Biden’s speech didn’t focus on cancer, but on expanding access to mental health care.

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Biden has a history of expressing a desire to cure cancer. In September 2022, Biden talked about his administration’s effort to end cancer “as we know it,” hoping to cut U.S. cancer deaths by 50% over the next 25 years, the Associated Press reported. More recently, Biden announced a cancer-focused research initiative in late July, again describing it as part of a “fight to end cancer as we know it.”

Biden has been personally affected by cancer, as his adult son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment but did not receive a response.

AFP and Reuters also debunked the claim.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The White House, July 25, Remarks by President Biden on Expanding Access to Mental Health Care

  • The White House, July 25, President Biden Delivers Remarks on Expanding Access to Mental Health Care (YouTube)

  • Associated Press, Sept. 12, 2022, Biden hopes ending cancer can be a ‘national purpose’ for US

  • Associated Press, July 27, Biden announces an advanced cancer research initiative as part of his ‘moonshot’ effort

  • Associated Press, May 31, 2015, Vice president’s son Beau Biden dies at 46 of brain cancer

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Video shows Biden expressing desire to cure cancer | Fact check

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