Presidential primaries are about appealing to one's respective base, and then running to the middle to win votes in the general election after the conventions.
Current Republican frontrunners, Romney and Giuliani, aren't traditional Republicans. To combat their liberal indiscretions they've basically abandoned their records and what made them credible national candidates, instead crafting images to win the Republican nomination.
This strategy has had underwhelming affects. Giuliani is the current favorite, but could fall at any moment. As for Romney, his numbers are misleading because he has spent more than his rivals, and most from his own pockets. Therefore, it seems that both candidates could falter if a serious challenger arose.
John McCain's ship sailed in 2000, and Fred Thompson's late entry only appears promising because you're confusing him with someone he played on television. The candidate should be the one that best embodies Republican principles and has the fewest weaknesses. That candidate is former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.
Right off the bat his easy going nature and charming discourse sets him apart from Romney and Giuliani, who both appear scripted and overly polished. Huckabee's personality will be essential when Iowa caucus-goers are looking for someone that resembles their makeup.
Beyond Huckabee's appealing exterior is an impressive record. He comes with no Iraq baggage, served as a Southern Baptist preacher, he's pro-life, was a pro-death penalty governor, opposes gay rights and has no ties to the Bush administration. Huckabee is more than a stereotypical conservative, and appears to be a real compassionate conservative, based on his intent to ensure a standard of life for Americans. What that actually means is debatable, yet, it seems meaningful when he says it.
He may take a hit on taxes and his foreign policy inexperience, but in a field of flawed candidates these kinks will not be life threatening.
The Republicans are searching for someone to beat Hillary Clinton and the answer isn't Giuliani. It could be Huckabee. He hasn't polled well nationally, but an early win in Iowa would change that.
A recent surge, without any massive media buys and few trips to Iowa, has catapulted Huckabee to the top of the pack in Iowa. If he keeps avoiding attacks he probably won't burn out too early, the way Howard Dean did in 2004. Yet, Huckabee doesn't need to win Iowa. A poor showing by Thompson would solidify Huckabee as the best conservative.
New Hampshire is a tough state to predict because of those fickle voters, but momentum from Iowa could guarantee a third place finish, which would be a win for Huckabee. In a state where even Ron Paul has a chance, just a fourth place finish followed by third in South Carolina, and Huckabee would be alive to Super Tuesday when the pack will have dwindled significantly enough for him to secure the nomination.
None of this really matters anyway, because Chuck Norris already chose Huckabee as his candidate. And as the saying goes, "Chuck Norris doesn't endorse, he tells America how it's going to be."