Okay, some random thoughts from watching most of the CNN/YouTube debate tonight:
Rudy Giuliani: Starting to have more problems. He may have hit a ceiling among voters who won't get beyond his pro-choice, socially liberal positions (at least he has the conviction to stick to these instead of pandering to the right wing). But as he goes along and has to face the issues from his personal life, his responses will get more brittle and angry and his support will bleed away.
Mike Huckabee: Very charming and folksy, and I'm not surprised to read that he's rising quickly in the polls. He also seems to be a legitimately decent guy with a talent for relatively straight talk and a good sense of humor. Too bad he doesn't believe in evolution and is generally on the wrong side of every substantive issue, but I'd have a hamburger with him.
Duncan Hunter: Why is he still around? He's just trying to avoid embarrassment at this point and waiting for an excuse to drop out.
John McCain: I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He's had a long and honorable career serving his country, got smeared by Bush and Rove in 2000, and his face is lumpy. If you put a gun to my head and made me vote for a Republican I'd probably choose him because I think he's probably the most authentically principled of the bunch, and I have a lot of respect for his steadfast stand against torture. But his positions are increasingly unpopular with his party and he doesn't have a lot longer to go.
Ron Paul: The zealot. Like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader he's fun to listen to for the sake of outrage and catharsis, but he has no business pretending to be a viable candidate for leader of the free world. He sounded borderline-insane when he was given a question about the New World Order. The kids seem to like him.
Mitt Romney: This man seems to have no core convictions beyond the unshakeable certainty of his own self-importance. He's an empty suit who will apparently say anything to please any audience, as was made clear again from his statement from a decade ago that he looked forward to the day when gays could serve openly in the military, but "that was a different time." His total misunderstanding of John Edwards' "two Americas" theme and his refusal to agree that waterboarding is illegal under the Geneva Convention were frustrating as well.
Tom Tancredo: Didn't get a lot of time, which is no great loss.
Fred Thompson: Lacked energy and looked like he would rather be somewhere else. I expect him to drop out pretty early in January so that he can start collecting residuals from Law & Order reruns again.
For the record, my favorite candidate currently is John Edwards, but I'll vote for any of the four leading Democrats.