Obama, Giuliani hire local campaign staff

CONCORD -- Presidential hopefuls from both parties are busy appointing key campaign staff in New Hampshire, the state with the earliest presidential primary.

Wednesday, a day after filing for an exploratory committee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama hired political consultant Matt Rodriguez as state campaign manager.

Rodriguez has worked previously on Democrats' campaigns in New Hampshire. He was political director for Richard Gephardt in 2004, and in 2000 he was deputy campaign manager for Bill Bradley.

Concord lobbyist and Obama supporter Jim Demers, who worked with Rodriguez to plan Obama's visit last month, acknowledged Rodriguez has yet to work for a winner.

Still, "He understands New Hampshire politics and has a lot of friends in New Hampshire," Demers said. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is the right person for the job."

Among Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has hired a full staff, including former employees of recently defeated U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley and the state's senior senator, Judd Gregg.

Jeff Semprini, son of the outgoing state Republican chairman, Wayne Semprini, will be Giuliani's regional field director and youth and college outreach coordinator.

Arizona Sen. John McCain plans to name former Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding as state campaign chairman. His vice-chairmen will include former congressman and state Supreme Court justice Charles Douglas, former state Republican chairman Steve Duprey and his wife, lawyer Susan Duprey, and former state GOP chairwoman Jayne Millerick. McCain's campaign has nine staff members and an office in Manchester.

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo has hired Shelly Uscinski, former head of the state Christian Coalition and a former key supporter of Pat Buchanan, as his state campaign manager.