Giuliani courts top NH operatives

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 10 2011 2:15 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this June 2, 2011 file photo, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks in North Conway, N.H. Giuliani is quietly working to hire political operatives in New Hampshire for a possible presidential bid.

Robert F. Bukaty, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

CONCORD, N.H. — Rudy Giuliani, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 but failed to win a single state, is quietly working to hire political operatives in New Hampshire for a possible second White House bid.

Representatives for the former New York mayor have contacted veteran New Hampshire campaign strategists in recent days about joining a Giuliani campaign, according to several people with direct knowledge of the effort. These people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the information.

They said Giuliani's team is concerned that Texas Gov. Rick Perry's all-but-certain campaign could scoop up the few remaining top operatives in the first-in-the-nation primary state, where a host of candidates already have dozens of people on the payroll. One person described Giuliani's aides as having a sense of urgency.

Giuliani, the thrice-married former Democrat, spent roughly $59 million on his first GOP bid in 2008 and won only one delegate to the GOP nominating convention.

He has acknowledged that that bid was flawed, visited New Hampshire four times this year and stayed in touch with some top elected officials in the state.

Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., for one, was approached by a Giuliani representative as recently as last week, Guinta spokesman J. Mark Powell said. He would not describe the conversation but characterized it part of a regular communication.

Those close to Giuliani say he hasn't yet decided whether to move forward with a campaign and that he would not make any political appearances in the days before or right after the impending 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. His widely praised leadership in the wake of the attacks earned him national prominence and the nickname, "America's Mayor," which helped fuel his presidential ambitions.

"The mayor is still considering it and if he goes, I'm with him," said Wayne Semprini, who led Giuliani's campaign in New Hampshire in 2008. Semprini acknowledged contacting potential staffers in recent days, but he said he was simply surveying the landscape as Giuliani decides whether to get into the race.

If he runs, Giuliani's advisers envision a smaller, scrappier operation than his 2008 effort in which he campaigned as a national front-runner but failed to pay adequate attention to early voting states. This time, they say he would focus primarily on New Hampshire in hopes that a victory here would help him raise money for contests beyond.

"The last thing he'd want to do is politicize 9/11, which has a lot to do with why he's not a candidate right now," Semprini said.

In his first race, Giuliani's moderate positions on abortion rights and gay marriage were sharply at odds with the conservative voters who traditionally dominate Republican primaries and helped doom his campaign then. His advisers argue that those issues are far less pressing this time and that Giuliani's record on bringing jobs to New York City would be welcomed by voters worried about the poor economy. But they acknowledge he still might have a hard time persuading many GOP primary voters that he is one of them.

Giuliani's advisers are also waiting to assess the impact of Perry's expected entrance into the race. Perry and Giuliani are good friends, and Perry endorsed and campaigned for Giuliani in 2008.

Aides said Giuliani met with Perry this summer and urged him to enter the race.

Fouhy reported from New York.

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