Rufus Gifford, the gay man who was ambassador to Denmark in President Obama’s second term, has been named deputy campaign manager for Joe Biden’s presidential effort.
“Gifford is charged with focusing on the intersections between finance, policy and political work and occasionally serving as a Biden spokesperson,” the Washington Blade reports. He had endorsed the former vice president for the Democratic presidential nomination early in the primary season and has often served as a Biden surrogate, the Blade notes.
Gifford, who served as ambassador to Denmark from 2013 to 2017, was one of seven out ambassadors in the Obama administration, and he became a reality TV star in the Scandinavian country. A Danish TV station did a prime-time documentary series on him, Jeg er Ambassadøren fra Amerika (I Am the Ambassador From America). The series began its run in 2014, earned him Denmark’s equivalent of an Emmy, and made him recognized throughout the nation.
He and his partner, veterinarian Stephen DeVincent, became a well-known couple in Denmark. They married in 2015 at Copenhagen City Hall, where the world’s first legal same-sex civil unions were held in 1989.
After Donald Trump was elected president, Gifford decided to join the resistance by returning to the U.S. and running for the U.S. House of Representatives from his native Massachusetts in 2018. On November 9, 2016, the day after the election, he was hosting a reception in Denmark and as he mingled with hundreds of people there, “I saw really how sad, how devastated, how concerned they were about the future of the world,” he told The Advocate in 2018. “It was then I knew I had to come home and step up my level of service.”
The Democratic primary to fill a vacant seat representing northeastern Massachusetts’s Third Congressional District drew numerous candidates, though, and he lost to Lori Trahan, who went on to win the general election in the heavily Democratic area.
Before becoming an ambassador, Gifford was a senior aide to Obama; earlier, he had worked as a consultant advocating for progressive causes, as a volunteer and then staffer on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and as a producer in the entertainment industry. He was a campaign fundraiser for Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and finance chair for the Democratic National Committee in the latter year.