Semprini to lead Giuliani's New Hampshire force

CONCORD -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has recruited veteran New Hampshire Republican activist Wayne Semprini to lead his state operations.

Giuliani, who is mulling a White House run, announced the appointment Monday, following his weekend visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"We picked up a lot of supporters this weekend," Semprini said. "We're in the process of putting together a master schedule. (Giuliani) is very interested in coming back. At least I don't have to make a strong case for him to come back."

Semprini, who until Saturday was the state Republican Party chairman, has been involved in New Hampshire politics since 1972. In November's midterm elections, Democrats won control of both chambers of the Legislature, both U.S. House seats and a majority on the Executive Council. They also retained the governorship.

Semprini had cited health problems as his reason not to seek another term leading the state GOP, but said surgery earlier this month appears to have resolved complications from a hip replacement.

"My rehab is going phenomenally well," Semprini said. "At this stage, I should be up to fighting speed by the first of March. ... I'll still be involved, but from a different angle now."

Giuliani has formed an exploratory committee, the first step toward a full presidential campaign. During his visit this weekend, he would not say when he would make a final decision, although his speeches at Bretton Woods and Manchester were campaign-style addresses.

"It appears to me that Mayor Giuliani is not a guy who does anything part way. He's someone who is very, very thorough," Semprini said. "I don't think he'll make his total announcement until he's had an opportunity to look at all those angles and share all those angles with his wife, Judith."

Judith Giuliani accompanied her husband to New Hampshire, his first trip to the state since forming his exploratory committee.

The former New York City mayor has hired other key staff in New Hampshire, including Semprini's son. Jeff Semprini is Giuliani's regional field director and youth and college outreach coordinator.

Giuliani also has hired veteran GOP activist David Tille as his political director. Chris Wood, a veteran of Steve Forbes' and Pat Buchanan's campaigns, will lead coalition building.

Giuliani headlined the state GOP meeting in Manchester on Saturday and spoke at the Littleton Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday night, earning warm welcomes at both.