Romney's Nat'l Finance Team; Rudy's Communications Staff

Happy New Year to all.

Again, Ill send e-mails sparingly.

Giuliani Staffs A Communications Office

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has recruited two veteran GOP communicators to set up the press shop for his presidential exploratory committee.

Katie Levinson, a former White House aide who was most recently the comm. dir for Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggers campaign, will be a senior adviser. She’ll be tasked with setting up the campaign's communications operations. She'll map out the campaign's press plan and help hire spokespersons and researchers.

Anthony Carbonetti, a top aide to Giuliani, said in a statement that Levinson's "experience coupled with her political acumen garnered during her political career in the White House and the RNC are great addition to our talented team." At the White House, Levinson was the chief liaison between senior White House officials and the broadcast media and was in charge of the surrogate booking operation. At the RNC, the budget for her division -- Television and Radio operations -- exceeded several million dollars.

Also, Maria Comella will be the Giuliani exploratory committee's director for regional media. She has experience in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Most recently, Comella served as comm. dir for Ex-Rep. Jim Nussle's IA GOV campaign. In '04, she was the NH comm. dir for the Bush-Cheney re-election effort. She's worked for Gov. George Pataki and the Winston Group and even, at her young age, has Capitol Hill experience.

Comella and Levinson join the Giuliani campaign a few days after a 140 internal memo highlighting Giuliani's vulnerabilities as a candidate made its way to the New York Daily News. A Giuliani spokesperson said the memo wasn't official and insinuated that it was stolen from an aide's luggage in Florida. Some of Giuliani's opponents are using the incident to question the competence of Giulianis potential campaign, but it's hard to imagine that any actual voter in any actual state will have this memo on their minds next year.

Nevertheless, Comella and Levinson are both grade A professionals and will be in a position to contain, and perhaps to tamp down, similar stories in the future. Their hires once again confirm the seriousness of Giuliani’s exploratory efforts. An adviser to Giulianis campaign manager, Mike DuHaime, tells the Hotline that several more senior staffers will be announced next week. [MARC AMBINDER]

Romney Announces Nat'l Finance Team, Including Ted Welch

Hours after his predecessor was sworn in, Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney released a list of major Republican donors who have agreed to help him raise millions for his presidential campaign.

Several people on the list have been public supporters of Romney's for a while, like Jon Huntsman, Sr., the developer and father of Utah's governor, John Miller, the founder of the National Beef Backing Company, John Rakolta Jr., chair of the largest homebuilding corporation in the Midwest, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a billionaire.

But one new name stands out: Ted Welch, the Tennessee investment banker who masterminded Sen. Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) $20 million haul in 1996 and who, since he the RNC's finance chair in 1977, has been one of the party's most proficient and generous fundraisers.

Welch was courted by a bevy of Republican presidential candidates after ex-Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) decided not to run. He reportedly was upset that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) backed Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) for the post of minority whip instead of Alexander.

Another major figure in Republican party finance circles is Mel Sembler, a former ambassador to Italy and the corporate executive who convinced Romney to reform the health insurance system in Mass. Sembler is also a former RNC finance chair and was for six year the RNC's national committee man from Florida, meaning that he's on a first-name basis with virtually every single major Republican donor in the money-rich state.

Also on the list: Mark Guzzetta, a Florida developer who is close to the Bush family, and to ex-FL Gov. Jeb Bush in particular, and Tom Tellefsen, a Bush Pioneer who is president of Tellefsen investments in CA.

On Monday, dozens of Romney's closest friends will take over a ballroom in South Boston and spend the day dialing for donors. Several Republican donors said Romney hopes to raise at least $30 million by the end of June. [MARC AMBINDER]