Joe Biden now has a rock star diplomat serving as a deputy campaign manager focusing on finance, external outreach and coalition building. Rufus Gifford, former ambassador to Denmark, is no stranger to presidential campaigns. Gifford served as an unpaid intern for John Kerry’s campaign in 2004 and in 2012, he became Finance Director for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign where he was in charge of the record-setting billion-dollar budget.
In 2013, President Obama enlisted Gifford to be the American Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark. It was in that role Gifford flourished. One of Gifford’s great achievements in his role as diplomat to Denmark was engaging the Dane youths in their government. During his time in Denmark, Gifford became a celebrity of sorts to the Danish people. In an interview with The Atlantic, Stéphanie Surrugue, Danish journalist and writer, said about Gifford at an appearance with Denmark’s Prime Minister:
“People were shouting ‘Rufus!’ as they were shouting ‘Lars’ after the prime minister.”
Another element of Gifford’s life that Danes endeared was his marriage to veterinarian Stephen DeVincent at Copenhagen’s city hall in 2015 during his time as ambassador which reflected Denmark’s liberal views.
Gifford’s status as a Danish celebrity was further cemented when he became the subject of a reality show on Danish public television.
“To the Danish eye, he resembles a Hollywood film star,” said Erik Struve Hansen, executive producer of DR3, the public TV channel that carried the show. “He has a wide, white smile. He is always upbeat but can also be serious.”
The series, Jeg er ambassadøren fra Amerika (I am the Ambassador from America), became one of the most popular shows on DR3 and with a two-season run, won the Big Character award at the 2015 TV-Prisen, Denmark’s equivalent of the Emmys. The show is available on Apple’s iTunes store.
After his time as ambassador, Gifford became a candidate running for 3rd congressional district in Massachusetts for the United States House of Representatives with endorsements from U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Sherrod Brown as well as former Obama advisor, Valerie Jarrett.
“Rufus will focus on places where finance intersects with policy and political work and will also occasionally serve as a spokesperson for the campaign,” said one person familiar with the move, speaking anonymously to the Washington Post before the news went public.
What do think of Gifford joining Biden’s presidential campaign? Let us know in the comments.