A May 23 Wall Street Journal by Patrick O'Connor and Jonathan Weisman ("Election Picture Sharpens for GOP") lists the field of Republican candidates as follows:
Thoughts on candidates listed as "in":
Newt "oh BABY I love my country" Gingrich fails in pretty much every category. I hope to be hearing about his departure from the field very soon. He's already on the defensive for making stupid comments, he's embarrassing, and his personal life is too much of a distraction.
Herman Cain intrigues me and I'm glad to see him enter the race. Cain is folksy, but smart; accomplished, and conservative; he has a way with words and an awesome voice. Picture the Reagan-Carter debates, and Reagan's effective "There you go again" tactic: Cain could also deliver a line like that and make it work. My politically-savvy son is not a Cain fan, but I remind him (and you) that we are not seeking perfection: we are seeking a candidate capable of defeating Obama.
Mitt Romney is an awesome speaker (I heard him at the Washington State Republican Convention last year) and I wish-wish-wish he wouldn't have given up so early in the last presidential race. I enjoy listening to him and his credentials are strong. But can he overcome the Romneycare thing? That remains to be seen.
Ron Paul is not on my fave list, but I'd vote for him over Obama, and be moderately satisfied. I just can't get in to the whole libertarian scene. Too much government is a bad thing, but I'm not ready for the hands-off approach libertarians dream about. On the plus side: he sells cool t-shirts on his website.
Tim Pawlenty seems promising. I like him, and his record looks pretty good. However, someone has advised him that calm and quiet (especially on hot-button issues like the mosque at Ground Zero) is a good thing; I don't agree. The media is trying to label him as "boring" and consign him to be relatively unknown to most voters. He's got to get his name out there-- in a good way. Here's an LA Times article with a YouTube link to introduce you to him.
Rick Santorum seems like a decent guy, and I love the big family (seven kids!). He would be an thoughtful, conservative president, but could he beat Obama? I need convincing. Here's an overview of his candidacy and qualifications from Fox News that ran in April.
Jon Huntsman seems to get two reactions from conservatives I know: "Who?" and "Oh, him." Unfortunately for him, he may not have worked in the Obama White House, but he did serve as his ambassador to China, which seems a little bizarre. His resume is impressive, but I wonder if he'll disappoint by being too liberal. Check out this link to the Washington Post, "New Hampshire, Meet Jon Huntsman."
Gary Johnson is not at the top of my list because he's too liberal for my taste. However, he would be better than Obama. Here's a link to an article and video from Salon.com to help you make up your mind.