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Rufus Gifford, Out State Dept. Official, Joins Biden's Reelection Bid

Rufus Gifford, Out State Dept. Official, Joins Biden's Reelection Bid

Rufus Gifford
Mandel NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Gifford, a gay man, was the highest-ranking out official at State as chief of protocol.

Rufus Gifford, the highest-ranking out official at the State Department, is leaving his post as chief of protocol to become finance chair for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

Gifford, a gay man, announced his departure from State via Twitter Monday, and shortly afterward, the Biden campaign announced his new position in a press release. Two other appointments were announced at the same time — former Congressman Cedric Richmond as campaign cochair and Democratic National Committee Finance Chair Chris Korge as finance chair for the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising vehicle for the campaign.

“Bringing in these trusted and known leaders that have a strong and proven record of helping win presidential campaigns sends a clear signal to the American people that we continue to build out a powerhouse campaign leadership team that knows what it will take to win in November 2024,” said a statement from Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez. “Already, this team has shown its ability to think outside the box to raise money, and bring in supporters across the country for the President and Vice President.”

Gifford has been national finance director at the Democratic National Committee and worked in Barack Obama’s and Biden’s presidential campaigns. He was U.S. ambassador to Denmark from 2013 to 2017, and he became something of a celebrity there as the subject of a prime-time documentary series. That's also where he got married to veterinarian Stephen DeVincent in 2015.

He tweeted on Monday that he was "tremendously grateful" to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden. "I've seen firsthand the positive impact of this [State Department]," he wrote. "I leave believing in the power of diplomacy more than ever."

Blinken had earlier tweeted that "Our relationships with countries around the world are stronger because of Rufus and his team's important work on behalf of our nation."

Gifford ran for U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 in Massachusetts’s Third Congressional District. He lost the Democratic primary to Lori Trahan, who later won the general election.

As chief of protocol, he was the first point of contact for foreign leaders conducting official business with the U.S. The post is ambassador-level and one of the highest-ranking positions in the department.

Gifford was confirmed to the chief of protocol post in December 2021. Speaking to The Advocatelast year, he said the position was “an amazing opportunity. I’m a fly on the wall for some of the most important conversations. It's an honor and a privilege.”

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