The Republican Primaries
The presidential race is starting to take shape. The Democrats, of course, will nominate Hillary Clinton. In the race for the Republican nomination, however, the outcome is still wide open.
There are four GOP candidates who have a chance of winning the nomination: Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Rudy Giuliani leads the race, and is running on the fact that he was "America's Mayor" in the weeks following 9/11, the excellent job he did as mayor of New York, and on the fact that he will be "electable" in a race against Hillary.
The fact that Rudy Giuliani is a liberal regarding social issues will almost certainly hurt his race against Hillary- even if most social conservatives support him, there will almost certainly be a large number who will not. Also, many people ignore the fact that Giuliani already has run a campaign against Hillary. Hillary won, as Giuliani dropped out of the race. In fairness to Giuliani, it should be noted that prostate cancer played a large role in his decision to end his candidacy, but it should also be noted that his affair with Judith Nathan (now Judith Giuliani) also played a role. Even before he dropped out, however, Clinton was having her way with him in the polls.
Fred Thompson's campaign is truly remarkable, given that his initial support came almost entirely from the grassroots. He has a record as a true conservative, and he has managed to position himself as an alternative to Giuliani in a way that no other GOP candidate has been able to.
However, his campaign has been a bit weak. Reports of laziness can be attributed to a hostile media, but there is no denying that his speeches have been unexciting, and his debate performances, while acceptable, haven't been lights out. His speeches seem to full of platitudes and truisms, as opposed to any real policies.
Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are certainly long shots for the Republican nomination, but not that long. Romney, is particular, has run a very solid if not spectacular campaign. His leads in Iowa and New Hampshire definitely put him in excellent position to quickly build momentum once the primaries start. His conservative positions are right in line with prevailing conservative thought, but he seems to have arrived at them all within the last two years.
Mike Huckabee could win possibly win Iowa if he gets massive support from social conservatives, and if he manages to build a lot of momentum from Iowa, he could barely possibly win other states, and just gather enough for the nomination. Its not very likely, but that's why they call him a long shot. Some of his positions, however, would hurt him in the unlikely event that he somehow got enough momentum to be a threat to any of the true frontrunners.
Huckabee seems to be under the impression that government should help out those in need. While this is fine for individuals, and most agree that it is permissible in truly desperate cases (such as starving children), most conservatives believe that it is not the role of government to provide charity. This softheartedness in Huckabee has led him to suggest that the plight of illegal aliens and that of slaves are somehow comparable, to suggest a nationwide smoking ban, and to commute the sentence of a convicted rapist, who then raped and murdered a woman. Furthermore, he received failing grades from the Cato Institute for his fiscal policy.
So, the Republicans have as frontrunners Rudy Giuliani, a social liberal, Fred Thompson, whose campaign seems to be losing ground, Mitt Romney, a very recent convert to conservatism, and Mike Huckabee, who seems to be a proponent of the welfare state. None of the these candidates are perfect. In fact, I would venture to say that two of them are unacceptable to conservatives- Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. (Although in fairness to Huckabee, he does support the FairTax now. I don't know much about it, but it sounds a bit implausible as a tax policy. It would, however, lower tax rates.) The other two, Thompson and Romney, have flaws, but are acceptable. I would add to the acceptable list John McCain, despite his many flaws. He is, at least, barely (just barely) acceptable to all the wings of the Republican party. The Republicans, if they want to win in 2008, should nominate one of those three.