It was a bipartisan night AT the White House, which was packed with teachers, first responders, and veterans, as well as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager, Anna Kendrick, and tennis legend Billie Jean King. Paul Buccieri, president and chairman of A+E Networks Group, opened the evening by welcoming the guests to the White House.
Elton received seven standing ovations as he delighted the crowd with some of his biggest hits, including “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” “Your Song” and “I’m Still Standing.” Throughout the evening he spoke of the advocacy and work he’s done since creating the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1991, adding that he wants to eradicate the disease by 2030. “We can do it, and we will,” he said defiantly.
He also thanked George W. Bush, who was not in attendance, for his “astonishing” work to expedite the fight against HIV and AIDS. He addressed the former president’s wife, saying, “Please tell him for me, give him a big hug. I just wish America could be more bipartisan on everything.”
“The AIDS epidemic,” he mentioned earlier in the night, “has always been bipartisan in America. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rang [United States Senator] Lindsey Graham. And to his credit, he’s always come through.”
President Biden walked on stage at that point with an award that brought the superstar to tears. Here is the entire performance.