Rufus Gifford, the former U.S. ambassador to Denmark now running in the Democratic primary for the 3rd District congressional seat of outgoing Rep. Niki Tsongas, is pledging to stay positive through the final week of the race — even if opponents of his campaign are not.
“If we are going to fight the divisiveness and the nastiness of the Trump administration, let’s stand for something,” Gifford said in a video Monday. “Let’s put forward our agenda. Let’s talk about the issues. And let’s not tear each other down.”
Running in a crowded Democratic primary field, Gifford posted the video in response to an anonymous attack ad circulated over the weekend, which used comments he made as the star/subject of a Danish documentary. As the Lowell Sun recently reported, the unscripted show followed Gifford for two years, capturing candid moments — both flattering and unflattering.
According to Boston Herald, the attack video spliced together parts of the show in an attempt to cast Gifford as an outsider, including a clip of the then-ambassador in a luxury box at a New England Patriots game talking about how he hasn’t lived in Massachusetts.
“If I was in L.A. or D.C., I’d probably know more people than I would in Boston ’cause I’ve never lived here as an adult and I’ve never worked here,” Gifford said in the episode.
Gifford’s campaign says the video was selectively edited and took his words out of context.
The son of prominent Boston banker Charles Gifford, the 44-year-old candidate grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, but moved away as a young adult to work in Hollywood, before getting into politics. Gifford and his husband moved back to Concord upon returning from Denmark in 2017, shortly before he launched his 3rd District campaign. The episode, which featured a visit to the ambassador’s childhood home, focused on Gifford reflecting on his time growing up as the “black sheep” of his family in Massachusetts, before “running away” as a 22-year-old.
“One of the reasons I am running for office is actually to fight just the tone and the tenor of the politics coming out of Washington,” Gifford said in his video message. “Are we going to be any better than Donald Trump, if we resort to negative, personal attacks in our primaries?”
Gifford campaign communications director Dean Lieberman told Boston.com that the attack has been taken down from Twitter for violating the platform’s terms of service on copyright grounds, but Gifford himself says he hopes people go out and actually watch the series.
“When I committed to doing this show, when I was ambassador, the purpose of it was to teach people a little something about diplomacy, tear down walls, show the humanity of this work, put myself out there, make myself vulnerable in a way to connect with people who didn’t know much about what an ambassador does,” he said in the video.
Gifford tweeted Monday that his campaign had also anonymously received “unflattering information on other candidates,” but pledged to continue a positive campaign through the final days before the Sept. 4 primary.
“I want to be very clear: we WILL NOT have anything to do with any of these anonymous attacks. Period,” he said. “We’re all better than this.”