Dear Ron Paul:
You’ve embarrassed many of your supporters, and will ultimately end up with support only from a hard core of troglodytes. Libertarianism would’ve been better off without you. Thanks for nothing.
Dear Fred Thompson:
You have integrity, gravitas, and detailed position papers. You’d probably make a decent president. I enjoyed your performance in Last Best Chance. Nonetheless, this newish New Jerseyan will not be voting for you on Super Tuesday, assuming you’re even still in the race at that point. I want a candidate who’s willing to break with his party’s conventional wisdom when the evidence calls for it. This bit of “glib know-nothingness” about global warming helped convince me you’d be very slow to do that.
Dear Mitt Romney:
You lost me with your religion speech that pointedly excluded non-believers (and your subsequent lame statement that it hadn’t done that). You’re undoubtedly a fine manager, and the skills you learned in the consulting business might make you a good cabinet secretary. But being president is about more than focus groups, and the message you honed for social and religious conservatives doesn’t go over well with center-right people like me.
Dear Mike Huckabee:
At least Romney was incompetent at playing the religion card. You play it well, and that makes you a disturbing figure. Sectarian religious conservatism plus economic populism plus foreign-policy naivete add up to a bad presidency. However, I take back my recent comment that you’re the worst possible Republican candidate. That honor now goes to Ron Paul.
Dear Rudy Giuliani:
As one who was for decades a New Yorker, I have long been impressed by your abilities and performance, not least on 9/11. But I retain some qualms about your judgment and sharp elbows. U.S. foreign policy should be strong, but it should also be diplomatic, and I worry that you will disregard the first part of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” In addition, the next president should have a firm commitment to civil liberties, a balanced view of executive power, and a willingness to let others get some of the credit when things go right. Did you really have to try stopping those bus ads a decade ago?
Dear John McCain:
You were right on Iraq when others were panicking or saying nothing. Your national-security experience, aversion to pork-barrel spending, recognition of global warming as a problem, and refusal to get too close to the religious right, are all major points in your favor. Yes, you have some big-government tendencies I dislike, and your campaign-finance “reforms” were wrongheaded. Overall, you are the most attractive candidate. I will vote for you on Super Tuesday, and hope to do so also in the general election. But if you do something crazy—like select Huckabee as your running mate—all bets are off.