Vice President Joe Biden, in town to meet with cancer researchers, took swings at big political donors, divisive candidates and congressional dysfunction during a luncheon fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray Monday.

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Vice President Joe Biden, in town to meet with cancer researchers, took swings at big political donors, divisive candidates and congressional dysfunction during a luncheon fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray Monday.

“This campaign season is a little depressing,” the vice president told an estimated crowd of 1,400 gathered at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

Biden referenced GOP nominee-frontrunner Donald Trump in passing, and a tenor in American politics that he said has become “too petty” and “too ugly” in general, during a wide-ranging and at times fiery keynote speech for the fundraising event, during which Murray also honored three citizen activists who have turned personal challenges or tragedies into successful societal endeavors.

Biden praised city and state elected Democrats as national leaders in addressing income inequality and the region as a hub for technology and health-care research and development. He also blasted dysfunctional partisan politics and candidates on the national level for fanning flames of divisiveness across America, citing “too much big money” as the root of a broken political system.

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“Our people aren’t our problem, our politics in America are our problem now,” Biden said.

With Biden as the featured guest, those attending Murray’s fundraising event — her 21st annual Golden Tennis Shoe Awards — paid from $150 to $300 per plate. The awards are a play on Murray’s nickname — the “mom in tennis shoes.”

Murray’s honorees included:

• Gary Kennison, who, after his daughter’s murder at the hands of her estranged husband, helped lobby for the Sheena Henderson Act, a state law requiring family notifications when a confiscated firearm is returned to a potentially dangerous owner.

• Joe Krumbach, the widower of a decorated Vietnam veteran, who challenged Veterans Affairs’ denial of survivor benefits and became the first gay person in Washington to receive such benefits as a same-sex spouse.

• Cheryl Senson, who overcame drug addiction to become an advocate for needy and homeless people, and who now is executive director of the nonprofit Jubliee Women’s Center.

Murray also presented Biden with what she called an honorary Golden Tennis Shoe Award for his life in public service while overcoming his own personal tragedies, including the deaths of a wife and two children. Murray likened Biden’s call to find a cancer cure to President John Kennedy’s vow to go to the moon.

“Joe is launching a moonshot for this generation to end cancer as we know it,” she said.

Biden met later Monday with researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as part of his so-called “National Cancer Moonshot Listening Tour.”

During his speech at Murray’s event, Biden personally praised each award honoree, telling Kennison, the father whose daughter was murdered, “I wish I could’ve been that strong.”

“I lost two children — one to a tractor trailer, the other to cancer — and I barely had the courage to hold my head up,” Biden said.