I’ve been visiting taverns lately, and last night I gave a talk to about 50 men, followed by a long conversation. The vast majority are still unenthusiastic about the GOP field. Yet, patterns are starting to take shape, more complete and thoughtful opinions are starting to form. They have seen enough to think the following: 1) Guilliani is finished; he shouldn’t have tried to pull the inside straight. 2) Too bad that Thompson couldn’t make a go of it, but there is something to be said about ambition, and he should have revealed more of it; also, he should not have let his wife get involved in his campaign; he should have acted like the man he appeared to be before his campaign started. 3) Even his initial supporters now admit that Huckabee is too incomplete to be president, although they liked his feisty ability to gab. 4) The more moderate and business oriented conservatives are moving toward Romney; they are now saying that his steady competence is worth something. 5) Those that are most deeply concerned about the terror war like McCain, for the reasons Rich Lowry notes; heroic character will keep us safe, besides, he’ll probably be forced to move right for the general campaign (including having a more conservative running mate) and he will keep his promises. Anyway, they are convinced that after Florida they will have to choose between Romney and McCain.
And last, although they are not surprised by the Clintons’ viciousness in general, they are in awe of its fierceness and boldness and baseness toward Obama; and none of them thought Hillary would have this kind of Sister Souljah moment, especially before South Carolina. Somebody said that this is like watching the Sopranos. They now think that the GOP actually may have a slightly better chance in November, maybe a five percent better chance, but still not 50-50.