Former Obama aide eyes political office in Mass.

A former ambassador and top Obama campaign aide with strong local roots is running for office. He’s just not sure which one yet.

Rufus Gifford, who was former president Barack Obama’s ambassador to Denmark after working as his reelection campaign finance director, said he has not settled on a specific post, considering “everything else” but the nation’s top job. That means he could run for US Senate, Congress, or the governorship, he affirmed in a phone interview.


A self-described “Massachusetts nomad” since returning from Copenhagen, he said he would probably establish permanent residence by Oct. 1. His father is Chad Gifford, who was chief executive at FleetBoston and chairman at Bank of America.

Gifford said the country’s current political climate has convinced him to put his own name forward as a candidate. A veteran of Democratic campaigns, he served for years as a liaison between Obama and the gay community.

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And he had planned, he said, on “potentially even staying in Europe, getting a normal job,” until last November.

The morning after the election, Gifford said, “I woke up and felt, frankly, like I was hit by a truck and [was] truly devastated by the political direction of the country.”

“Watching Charlottesville and watching neo-Nazis and the KKK marching in the street without presidential condemnation” fast-tracked his decision, Gifford said, adding, “I just felt like it was time to put myself out there.”


“We’re not necessarily saying 2018; I could wait a couple years to do this,” he said. “But at the same time, I’d try to do everything I could both nationally and locally to be politically active and have an impact.”

Gifford teased his plans Sunday, posting to Facebook, “I have to run.”

As ambassador to Denmark, Gifford, a former Hollywood producer, cultivated a celebrity profile, starring in an award-winning reality TV show, “I Am the Ambassador from America.” He married his husband at Copenhagen’s city hall in 2015.

Gifford, 43, grew up in Manchester on the North Shore.

Noting that his career has taken him far afield, Gifford said Tuesday, “My profile is high in some parts of the country and certainly in Denmark, but people in Massachusetts might not necessarily know me, so it’ll be my job to go door to door.”

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.