Rudy entire candidacy seems to be based on the fact that he was the mayor of New York during 9/11. Which, when it comes down to it, really isn’t anything to run on. By the time the election comes around it’s going to be 7 years in the past. I don’t think morality (read: Gay marriage) will be much of an issue this time around, but I still can’t see the religious right getting behind a thrice divorced guy that supports/ed gay marriage. That’s an important base for Republicans. With Rudy’s lack of other credentials his inability to court the religious right is probably a death blow.
Romney, excepting the Mormon part, really appeals to the right wing. He is basically Bush recast as a Mormon governor of Massachusetts. Which is actually a really good thing for Romney. He can say the same things, (“Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here”), without the taint of failed policies. He has an advantage over Hillary and Barak in being able to play the family values card legitimately. Hillary is associated with Bills’ indiscretions, and Obama is going to have a hard sell due to his ethnicity.
At this point I think the Republican primary race is between Romney and everyone else. I can’t see how he could manage to lose it. McCain is effectively dead as a candidate, and as I noted earlier Rudy is extremely weak. Assuming that Romney wins the nomination, he has a very good chance of beating either Obama or Hillary. I think he beats Obama by a small margin based on family values, strong statements against terrorism, and Obama’s liability to be characterized as a soft on terror liberal.
Hillary is by far the strongest candidate on paper. She is the most experienced politician, and has a great deal of foreign affairs experience. Unlike Obama, it is going to be very difficult to cast her as soft on terror. Plus, her support for ending the Iraq war is going to help her. The problem for her is that she is going to get killed in “family values” and will be cast easily as a liberal. I’m not sure if the country is ready to elect a women president period, let alone Hillary.
I think if Romney is nominated he has a very good chance of beating Hillary. There is still some magic in the ole “Family values/Anti-Gay” hat.