Instead of accepting standing ovations, the U2 singer will give them alongside the first lady on Tuesday night. He was invited for his activism in the fight against HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. The Dubliner has helped build public support for PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), which President George W. Bush founded in 2003, and its brand partnerships (RED) have raised more $700 million to fight the disease in Africa.
At her side will be Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, aged 82, “speaker emeritus” of the House.
Paul Pelosi was violently attacked with a hammer in a politically motivated break-in at their San Francisco home. He had made his first public appearance since the attack at the Kennedy Center Honors in December.
Joining them will be Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff; Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the shooter who killed 11 people and injured 10 others at a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California; and RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, mother and stepfather of Tire Nichols, the 29-year-old unarmed black man who was beaten by police during a traffic stop in Memphis before dying of his injuries.
A recurring guest will be Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador, who will appear just over a month after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s fierce visit to the White House.
Biden will deliver his speech after a Washington Post-ABC News poll emerges showing that the majority of Americans don’t think he’s accomplished much since taking office, despite legislative victories like protecting same-sex marriage or adoption of the Inflation Reduction Act. He is expected to hit the road promoting his program straight after the speech, amid strong indications he plans to run again in 2024.
Other guests include cancer survivors who support the administration’s Cancer Moonshot program; recipients of the First Lady’s Joint Forces initiative to help military families; a member of the Navajo Nation, which the first lady visited in April 2021; a beneficiary of the DACA (deferred action for the arrival of children); small business owners; a budding teacher; an ironworker from Pennsylvania; a college football player who advocates for mental health; and Kate Foley, a 10th grade student from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, who hopes to become a biomedical engineer.
Also featured will be Austin’s Amanda Zurawski, who nearly lost her life to sepsis when she miscarried and was unable to have an abortion due to Texas’ restrictive abortion laws; Deanna Branch, a mother of two from Milwaukee, whose family has battled health issues related to exposure to lead in their drinking water; Doug Griffin of Newton, NH, who lost his 20-year-old daughter to a fentanyl overdose and is trying to end the stigma of the addition; and Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith, whose 2004 lawsuit paved the way for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and who were present in 2022 when the president signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law.
There is, however, one guest who might eclipse even Bono: Ruth Cohen, a 92-year-old Auschwitz survivor who lives in Rockville, Maryland, and volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.