Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday counted superstar singer Lady Gaga among the bravest survivors he knows for her role in raising awareness about sexual assault on college campuses.
The seemingly odd couple appeared at a rally in Las Vegas before hundreds of college students and community members as part of the White House's "It's On Us" campaign. Biden has been heavily promoting the initiative that urges people to support sexual assault victims and intervene when consent is questionable.
"Imagine the courage it takes for her to speak out and then imagine the courage it takes for her to sing a song, 'Til It Happens to You,' that is branded in her heart," Biden said as he introduced the singer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Cox Pavilion.
Lady Gaga, who has talked openly about being sexually assaulted when she was 19, performed the Oscar-nominated song at a black piano next to a large American flag. Afterward, she called it her greatest honor to be at the event to support the cause.
"What I've learned is that the most powerful form of feeling is compassion, so if you can simply be a friend to someone and truly listen, truly lend your ear, even if it's hard or you don't understand," she said. "You will be fulfilling the sense of loneliness that has stayed with me ever since the day I was abused."
Biden spoke for 40 minutes about the "sick cultural norm" of sexual assault, including stigma and passive attitudes and asked the crowd to pledge to be an active voice in incidents they witness or know about.
It's the second time this year that the vice president has introduced Lady Gaga. At the Academy Awards in February, Biden announced her performance of the song that appeared in "The Hunting Ground," a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses.
At the Oscars, she sang "Til It Happens to You," a nominee for best original song, surrounded by sex assault survivors.
Biden and Lady Gaga partnered up after the vice president met Diane Warren, the song's lead writer, last fall at an "It's On Us" event, according to Biden's office. The song's music video urges people to join the campaign.
In addition to a half-dozen rallies over the past year at college campuses, the vice president also recently spoke about the issue at a NCAA men's basketball tournament game.
Domestic violence prevention has been a signature issue for Biden since he championed the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate in 1994. He will visit the University of Colorado, Boulder, for another rally Friday.