Huckabee: still dead man walking; review here--but, in a nutshell, the diverse forces of conservatism have united to destroy him: NRO, Drudge, Rush, Hugh Hewitt, et al. I restate my previous prediction: Huck comes in second in Iowa and goes down from there.

Rudy: still dead man walking; he is a good guy--but not GOP nominee material. His pro-choice stand--believe it or not--is forgivable; his anti-gun stand is less so--but, even worse, too many scandals and too many wives. He will never be the Republican standard bearer.

John McCain: still dead man walking. Too bad and unfair--but popular conservatism buried him long ago. He is absolutely right on many issues, and he is by far the best candidate to lead an embattled America. But he is not viable.

Romney: definitely on the upswing. His College Station speech was the most presidential moment of this year-long campaign. He is well-funded and better organized than his opposition. He has a plan. He has powerful friends. He is well positioned to take off coming out of Iowa. But I still have my doubts. The Republican Party has never nominated a presidential candidate from Massachusetts. I think the streak continues. Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire (and Michigan), but I think he finds big trouble down South and out West. This is mostly an inarticulate hunch--but I just don't think red-state America buys what Governor Romney is selling. I like him personally--but he does not energize me.

Fred: and Fred does? As crazy as it sounds, Fred Thompson gives me hope. He is obviously a slow starter, and his campaign, in addition to being horrendously inept, is completely lacking in imagination. As I have said before, he is running the worst campaign, but he is the best candidate. Fred is big and tough and ready to rumble. I have only seen the highlights of the Iowa debate today--but, evidently, he showed that side of himself in Iowa this afternoon. More hope.

Personality, viability, and affability aside, though, Fred is the kind of candidate, win or lose, who represents the ideas and principles of the Republican Party. We need a guy like Fred. He still strikes me as the most authentic choice of our realistic options.