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Busy as this particular American’s life is, I had to record this week’s debate among the current Republican candidates for President in 2008.

After finally getting to watch the debate in it’s entirety last night, I can say without any trepidation that it is time to narrow this field.

So having heard their positions and judged the pulse of the party to this point, and with apologies to these men, each of whom would be a better President than either of the Democratic party front-runners, it is time to say goodbye to the campaigns of Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Ron Paul, good men all.

This would leave the field consisting of, in alphabetical order by last name: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson.

The following is my own brief take on where these candidates currently stand with me, an average Republican, as they move forward looking for my vote:

Rudy Giuliani: the former New York mayor proved his mettle in the aftermath of 9/11. During this time, and in his previous years as NYC mayor, Giuliani showed that he is an outstanding manager of challenges and motivator of people, and showed after 9/11 that he can lead in times of crisis.

His book “Leadership” gave an outstanding look into what makes him tick, and revealed an exceptionally skilled politician. He understands the security and economic issues completely.

However, I remain concerned about his public position on life, his support for abortion. Moving forward, he will need to continue to show his strengths, and will somehow have to prove that he is a defender of our most vulnerable children, the unborn.

Mike Huckabee: the former Arkansas governor is emerging, at least in my mind, as a strong dark-horse candidate. Fact is, when this process began, I could not have told you a thing about him. But with each and every publc appearance and debate, he gets more and more attractive as a candidate.

Huckabee is far and away the leading “Values” candidate, and his position on the life issue is second to none. He shows a strong grasp of all the other issues as well.

He needs to keep impressing, and needs to find a way to build his candidacy stronger financially to compete with the big boys, but there is no doubt that he has struck a serious chord and is a player that I now take seriously and watch closely.

John McCain: for some reason, I just cannot get over my dual impression of the Senator from Arizona. On the one hand, there is no doubt that he is a true American hero. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, he was nearly killed at least three times.

As a young fighter pilot, his plane crashed in training. Again as a fighter pilot on-board the USS Forrestal, his plane was accidentally struck by friendly fire while still on the deck of the ship. And finally, he was captured and held in Vietnam as a POW for five and a half years during which he was repeatedly tortured without bowing to interrogations.

On the other hand, I am concerned that he comes off, at least to me, as one-dimensional: a strong military man and one who would absolutely defend our country well. Is it just me, or does he seem to be aging rapidly? I have concerns over his ability to physically last four years, let alone eight.

Mitt Romney: the former governor of Massachusetts, businessman, and savior of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic games, he has shown the most personality of any candidate. He is handsome, charming, articulate, knowlegable, and has the requisite leadership and business skills and experience. There is almost nothing to dislike about the man.

If he were religiously Protestant, or even Catholic, he might already be the rock star of the Republicans. Only his Mormonism seems to strike a hesitant chord with some voters. However, the man is a Christian to me, and that is all that matters in the end.

The fact that he has changed positions over the years on some key issues is of no concern. This is what happens in many folks lives, they become more conservative as they age and understand the issues better. It is what happened in my own life. I like Romney, and simply desire to see him continue to grow as he faces off against this experienced field over the next few months.

Fred Thompson: until this most recent debate, he was easily the biggest disappointment to me personally. There is no doubt as to his conservative bonafides. He earned a strong conservative record in the US Senate from Tennessee. He has been a popular TV actor and in his bit roles in motion pictures over the past decade or so, and so is familiar to and popular with many people.

But in his early campaign, he just seemed like he was coasting, possibly disinterested. That was obviously not the case in this Florida debate. Thompson slightly worries me in the same age way that McCain does, and I would still like to see more energy from his appearances. Perhaps Florida was the start of his making this impression.

Every one of them understands that America must remain sovereign, strong, competitive in business and militarily.

Every one seems to understand that judges need to be solid constructionists, rather than trying to legislate from the bench, and would appoint these types to the courts, especially to the Supreme Court.

Every one holds that God is vital to their own lives and to the nation, and that He needs to remain as a publicly recognized influence, the greatest influence, in our society.

In the end, every one of these candidates is head and shoulders above both Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama as an American Presidential candidate.