Livestrong Cancer Forum
Governor Chet Culver
August 27, 2007
Good Morning and welcome to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Foundation Presidential Forum.
I want to welcome Lance Armstrong back to Iowa – his new home away from home. You see, for thepast two years, Lance has participated in RAGBRAI, “our state’s great bicycle ride across Iowa.”
Lance Armstrong is clearly one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime. Iowans have enjoyed watching him win yellow jersey after yellow jersey. However, it’s now his passion and commitment to fighting cancer that has made you a true hero.
Lance is now racing to save countless lives everyday by finding a cure for cancer.
Like his incredible accomplishments in the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong’s own battle with cancer continues to inspire and motivate people around the globe.
His hard work through the LiveStrong Foundation has now given hope to all of us that someday we will win the race against cancer.
So Lance, thank you very much for hosting this important presidential forum here in Iowa, and thank you for your tireless efforts to find a cure for cancer!
Lance, thank you for your commitment and for hosting this forum here in Iowa.
I also want to welcome the presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans, who have agreed to participate in this important forum over the next two days.
I believe there is no better place in the country to hold a forum as important as this one than in Iowa. As these candidates know, here in Iowa we are accustomed to thoughtful, and often challenging questions – and have come to expect direct and straightforward answers. I look forward to hearing those answers over the next two days.
And, speaking of direct and straightforward, I want to welcome Chris Mathews and MSNBC to Iowa. Thank you for hosting this forum and giving the issue of cancer its due focus and attention.
Today, we are here to listen to these individuals talk about an issue that affects thousands of Iowans, and millions of Americans – cancer.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States – taking more than 550 thousand Americans each year, including 65 hundred Iowans.
I’m sure that there is not a person in this room whose life has not been affected by this disease.
Through the Livestrong Cancer forums, I am hopeful that the next President of the United States will be as personally committed as Lance Armstrong to finding a cure.
We all know that if we are going to make cancer a thing of the past, we need to effectively use the bully pulpit of the Oval Office and the financial backing of the federal government – especially significant funding for the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute.
I am happy to report that here in Iowa we are taking several important steps in the fight against cancer.
We are home to one of only 15 National Cancer Institute Centers in the US, located just down the road at the University of Iowa. The researchers at this facility are working hard everyday to unlock the mysteries of cancer and find a cure.
We also know Lung Disease is one of leading causes of cancer in this state, taking more than 20,000 lives each year.
That is why earlier this year I was honored to work with Republicans and Democrats to sign into law a $1/pack increase in the tobacco tax. With this important legislation and because of the new financial barrier to smoking, its been estimated up to 20,000 lives will be saved, 20,000 smokers will quit, and 20,000 kids will never light up their first cigarette.
In addition, earlier this year, I was happy to sign legislation to allow Iowa to join the race to the scientific frontier by lifting the ban on stem cell research.
This gives hope to thousands of Iowans suffering from life-threatening illnesses suffering from spinal cord injuries.
By lifting this ban, Iowa’s “world class” scientists and researchers are now free to pursue cures to such debilitating diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and especially cancer.
As Governor of Iowa, I was very proud to have had Lance as a partner in this important effort. He was there for us, making calls and urging the legislature to lift this ban. At the end of the day, it came down to one vote.
I believe it is fair to say that we may not have been able to repeal the ban on stem cell research in Iowa without his support.
Though these steps have put Iowa on the forefront of the cancer research frontier, there is still much more to do.
That’s why in a few short weeks, we will break ground on the University of Iowa’s new $125 Million Dollar Center for Bio-Medical Research.
This new research center will allow us to keep some of the best doctors and recruit others from across the country and around the world. Most importantly, it will keep our state on the forefront of medical research and discovery.
In closing, we all know that early detection and treatment are also key to winning this battle against cancer. That is why My Administration will continue working with the Legislature to invest more money for prevention and wellness programs, and breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate screenings.
Our country has faced many medical challenges before.
The battles to eradicate diseases, such as polio, measles, and chicken pox have made these life-threatening diseases a thing of the past, and helped save the lives of millions around the globe.
Well, this is now our time. This is our 21st Century challenge. It’s time for us to unlock the mysteries of this disease and find the cures of the future.
It’s time to work together in a bipartisan way to win this race. I am asking each of you help win the race by supporting a candidate for president who is unequivocally committed to this 21st Century challenge.
I am confident, with the support of the next president of the United States, we will meet this 21st century challenge before us, and create a cancer-free world for future generations.