I'm actually close to making an endorsement, but I'm not quite ready to do so at this time. If the primary election were today, I would be voting for Duncan Hunter. That's still subject to change, but less so.
Duncan Hunter - At this time, I do not believe an establishment Republican candidate can win in 2008. I clarify that by saying "at this time." That may change. It may not change. People are not happy with the establishment in either party, and there needs to be a "change" candidate. Duncan Hunter can pull this off. I think if Duncan Hunter has the money, he can win. Why?
1. He can keep the base. There's no questions with his stance on life and 2nd amendment issues. He'd even get rid of the IRA (Fairtax)
2. He can bring home the Reagan Democrats. He voted against NAFTA. He voted against GATT. These are BIG issues with me as well. I'm from a Big 3 Family, and understand the effects of these treaties have on our manufacturing base. We got our butts kicked in 06 - mostly due to the blue collar independents sending the GOP home. The biggest swings against us were in close communities.
3. He has a military background - and his son serves in the Iraq War. He'd be trusted as commander in chief much more than Bush is (Or John Kerry for that matter).
4. He was a leader against Amnesty.
One other thing I liked about Hunter. He isn't a coward, and he can think on his feet. How many presidential candidates after their speeches take UNSCREENED questions from the crowd? Not many. Hunter did.
About the only thing that has held me back from giving a formal endorsement so far is that he's a congressman and not a governor or complete outsider (Businessman/General). How much of a chance does he have to win. One interesting thing I've noticed is that many of the people I've talked to have Hunter as their first choice. Most of the others that I know that aren't voting for him (perceived electablility) liked him. I'm still open to switching my vote, but I'm leaning towards a Hunter vote.
Sam Brownback - Great on the abortion issue. He has some strong core support among social conservatives. Can it be expanded? The immigration issue hurts him however.
Jim Gilmore - Viewswise, I probably match up with Gilmore more than most candidates, but I haven't seen anything yet from his campaign. I was optimistic when I heard him annouce. He's probably the most anti-tax candidate in the race outside of Ron Paul.
Fred Thompson - He was a moderate republican from a center-right state (Tennessee). He caught on like fire and is one of the now "Big 4" (McCain, Romney, Giuliani are the others). He's trying to be the conservative alternative. Will he catch on after the vetting he will receive from the campaigns? We'll see.
Mitt Romney - There's a lot I like and a lot that concerns me about Mitt Romney. Romney has a great business background and did an excellent job running the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Competence isn't a problem for him, and that's a major issue at this time. He's also a very good speake. Where I'm concerned is with the pandering. Anytime I hear the "I'm a hunter" comment on guns, my guard goes up immediately, as most anti's try and hide their antiness in that statement. Look at the atrocious John Kerry as an example. Where does he really stand on many of the issues. That's the question.
Rudy Giuliani - I wish there was something viewswise I could really work with. I like Giuliani has a person, and if my vote was decided on which candidate I'd like to have a beer with - he's win. However, there are too many difference on the issues back from his record as mayor and as a US senate candidate for him to receive my vote. I will give him credit on one thing. He is running the best campaign IMO, of all the candidates. If things continue as I see them, I expect him to win the nomination.
John McCain - He's currently going through staff reduction, but he's got two major problems he'll have to deal with. Much of the base as well as establishment do not trust him - largely based on McCain Feingold and his relationship with the media. His amnesty position has also hurt him in a bad way. People have made some major comebacks before. We'll see what happens and what strategy McCain takes.
Tom Tancredo - I like Tancredo's stance and vigilance on amnesty. I also like his stance on 2a and life issues. The problem is that sometimes he doesn't always use the best choice of words, and everything I like about Tancredo can apply to Duncan Hunter.
Tommy Thompson - I haven't seen't much from his campaign. He's visited this state for Mackinac last year and did a great job with welfare reform in Wisconsin, but that's all I really know about him. I did like his answer on Iraq from one of the debates.
Mike Huckabee - Interesting candidate. Former Arkansas governor from Hope, just like Bill Clinton. Huckabee's also a very good speaker, probably the best of all the candidates running outside of maybe Romney. I thought he won the debate that I saw. I do have some fiscal concerns but his support to replace the IRS and income tax with fairtax helps him on that issue. I think Thompson hurts him badly though in the South. We'll see what happens there, but I think there's a chance for a late blooming candidate.
Ron Paul - I like Ron Paul, and I am still considering a vote for him. The establishment hates his guts, which is one thing I like about him. He also voted against the Patriot act, and when it comes to 2nd Amendment issues and freedom issues, there is none better. I do not agree with him on every single issue, but he takes a principled stand. The worst case scenario is that he brings things to the debate some of the others don't want to see. Paul has some strong core support, the question is can his insurgent campaign split this wide open. In the age of the internet, I think it is certainly possible. Ron Paul's no joke. I can say that much.