Emotional visit: Cancer expert Professor Sherene Loi with US Vice President Joe Biden (and a younger looking Dan Andrews) during VP’s trip to Australia in July 2016
It was July 2016, Joe Biden just arrived for her final trip to Australia in office – and she’s teary.
Sitting US Vice President talking with cancer expert Sherene Loi at the medical research center in Melbourne.
And despite being surrounded by his traveling circus – Secret Service agents, the media, even the younger looking Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews – Biden went private.
‘I remember he was quite emotional,’ Professor Loi told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She cried when I talked to her about her son … that’s a pretty tough thing to do.’
The oldest of Biden’s two sons, Beau, died of a brain tumor the previous year, at the age of 46.
Cancer, glioblastoma, is a cancer you ‘never want’, said Dr Loi, whose research was recognized.
The American politician wants to talk to Professor Loi about the immunotherapy treatments he is researching that are similar to what his son received.
For Biden, the loss of his son “still seemed very crude,” the oncologist recalled. “At that moment he looked like the parent or brother or father of another cancer patient.”
It was an emotional moment on the journey that provided valuable insight into President Biden’s possible approach to Australia if he defeated Donald Trump on November 3.
Sailing in Sydney Harbor: Vice President Biden has a private conversation with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on her last trip to Australia while taking office in 2016
Circus following US Vice President: A platoon of special operations forces following Joe Biden’s voyage with Julie Bishop if something goes wrong
Biden’s son, Beau, died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 46, leaving the Vice President to spend much of his final year in office focused on improving cancer care.
How will he get along with Australia?
The Australian government got off to a bad start with President Trump just a week after he took the oath of office in 2017.
A transcript of the phone call between Trump and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was leaked to the Washington Post.
In the call, the Republican president was angry over a deal Australia had signed with his predecessor Barack Obama that took 1,250 asylum seekers from Manus Island.
Trump said of all his introductory calls to world leaders, “by far the worst call” and denounced the plan as “the worst deal ever.”
Finally, the US President agreed to follow through with it – and experts say relations between the two countries have warmed since then.
Trump during his hot call with Malcolm Turnbull in office in January 2017
“It’s getting better and (Scott) Morrison appears to be one of the few world leaders Trump really likes,” Lowy Institute foreign affairs specialist Dr Michael Fullilove said in a podcast.
Biden – who was first elected to the US Senate in 1973 – is familiar with Australia, its alliance with the US and its history.
In his 2016 trip, the Vice President explained how two of his relatives fought in Papua New Guinea during World War II.
Biden described how Prime Minister John Curtin had turned from Britain to the United States for support in the dark days of 1941.
“Australians are looking to America, and a generation of Americans – including my two uncles are responding,” said Biden.
“Both were in New Guinea, one was killed and one returned seriously injured.”
At the MCG: Ms Bishop and partner David Panton (in West Coast Eagles scarf) watch AFL with Biden and American professional AFL player Mason Cox (to the left of the Vice President)
Biden chats with AFL CEO Gil McLachlan on the basis of the MCG
Biden has met several former Australian prime ministers, including Abbott, Hawke and Turnbull.
A top adviser, Jake Sullivan, told the chairman of the podcast Biden would be “excited” to forge a strong relationship with Morrison.
“I think they’re off to a great start,” he said, adding Biden saw Australia as the ‘hub’ of US security strategy.
But there may be tension over action on climate change, with advisers signaling he will encourage the nation’s ‘friends’ to ‘do more’.
Mr Sullivan said Biden will “hold countries like China accountable to do more but he will also encourage our friends to do more too.”
“There’s no reason to be awkward,” he said.
One thing he didn’t see coming
The Vice President took his granddaughter along on an excursion to Australia, where she hugged a koala, watched the AFL at the MCG (with Collingwood importer Mason Cox explaining the rules), boarded a cruise on Sydney Harbor with Julie Bishop, and met Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Indigenous Australians.
But there is one thing in sight that the Vice President – who is expected to be retiring by then – does not see his arrival.
Biden swings past Taronga Zoo with his grandson to see koalas and concludes the Australian tour
At the Victoria Comprehensive Care Cancer Clinic, Dr Loi said staff could not help asking him if the Republican candidate had a chance of winning.
Trump campaigned to ‘build the wall’ and was seen as an outside opportunity to beat former first lady Hillary Clinton.
Professor Loi said: ‘At the time he said to us, because we asked about Trump: “There’s no way he could come in”.
‘I thought everyone was quite surprised. I’m pretty reassured – the Vice President thought Trump wouldn’t come in, (so) he wouldn’t. ‘
Years later, the Vice President is in the final days of a marathon campaign to expel Trump from the White House.
Her eyes were undoubtedly wide open so that it too could end in tears.