Dan Bartlett ripped into the GOP field the other day:
One of President Bush’s closest advisers has a brutally candid analysis of the Republican nomination battle: Fred Thompson is the campaign’s "biggest dud," Mitt Romney has "a real problem in the South" because people will not vote for a Mormon, Mike Huckabee’s last name is too hick and John McCain could end up repeating 2000 by winning New Hampshire but losing the nomination.
In the end, he thinks that pragmatism may rule:
"Republicans, I believe, are terrified about losing the presidency after losing Congress," he said. "I think this is going to be the season of the pragmatic Republican voter. That bodes well for Rudy and it gives McCain a shot because I think people feel McCain can go toe-to-toe with Hillary in the general election."
My gut is that he is right about this. I also suspect that this is why the third-party option won’t succeed and why too much leadership from Jim Dobson and others in avoiding a potential Giuliani candidacy could be self-destructive. (not of the party, but hurt Dobson, et al.)