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Rufus Gifford, right, and his husband, Stephen DeVincent, at a 2017 royal reception in Denmark for the diplomatic corps. Photo: Ole Jensen- Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Joe Biden is poised to tap Rufus Gifford, a former ambassador to Denmark and LGBTQ advocate, as chief of protocol at the State Department, according to people familiar with the consideration.

Why it matters: In selecting Gifford for the high-profile role, Biden is opting for a diplomat and fundraiser who achieved celebrity status overseas to help repair relationships across the globe by showcasing the best of America at home.

The chief of protocol oversees not only State Department functions but also Blair House, the presidential guest house across from the White House. He or she routinely travels with the president, ensuring all formalities are arranged with foreign governments.

  • The chief's hand also is usually the first shaken by a dignitary upon arriving in the United States.
  • Gifford will also act as a liaison between the foreign diplomatic corps in Washington and the Biden administration.

Tapping Gifford for those honors also rewards a loyal campaign official.

  • The Massachusetts native was supportive of 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg, a fellow openly gay political figure, but Gifford endorsed Biden at a crucial time, when his campaign was lagging in January 2020.
  • Gifford received a Danish television award for a documentary series — "I am the Ambassador from America" — that he participated in while serving as ambassador.
  • His selection adds to the diversity Biden has promised for his Cabinet and other significant administration positions.

The big picture: Biden is filling out his diplomatic apparatus with Obama administration veterans.

  • He's tapped Tony Blinken, who previously served as State Department deputy secretary, to now serve as secretary of state.
  • He will nominate Wendy Sherman, who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, to serve as Blinken's deputy.
  • In addition, the president-elect is nominating Victoria Nuland, a longtime Foreign Service Officer and Obama-era veteran, to fill the State Department's powerful political affairs role.

The bottom line: Some congressional Democrats continue to call on Biden to nominate people of color in the upper ranks of the State Department.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden turns the page on Trump's Israel-Palestine policies

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: David Furst/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration laid out its Israel-Palestine policy at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of repairing ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Driving the news: According to the new policies, the U.S. will resume aid to the Palestinians and reopen the PLO office in Washington and the consulate in Jerusalem.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.