This past week, I've seen or read plenty of news analyses suggesting that the Republicans have a weak field of presidential hopefuls for 2012.
Not so. I believe that many of the potential candidates who might seek the GOP nomination have strategically strong paths to the White House, assuming that President Obama is still vulnerable next year.
Last week in this column, I put forth an explanation as to why Newt Gingrich is a stronger political force than many imagine. This week, let's consider the Republicans' other potential major candidates for the White House.
For starters, there's Mitt Romney. Some will have it that his expected candidacy is fatally flawed from the start, thanks to the largely unsuccessful health care reform that he championed when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Anyone who believes this is simply out of touch with current public opinion. Yes, the 2010 elections were a stark rebuke of "ObamaCare." But Romney, to his credit, has already admitted that his best intentions on health care in his home state didn't work as he'd hoped.
Romney is handsome and charismatic. He knows how to run an organization and already has a voter base from his presidential run in 2008. In my mind, he's the early frontrunner for his party's nomination in 2012.
Of course, some people view Romney as a bit too moderate. Others are troubled by his Mormon religion. Still others think he's just a little too smooth. For these folks, there's Mike Huckabee, who is probably the most genuine person potentially in the race.
But Huckabee is more than just a folksy good guy. He's also smart. He may be best known right now for his gig on Fox News, and he may himself believe that his presidential chances could look better after 2012. But if he does run this time, he will become the new front-runner. More, his chances to win the critical early caucus and primary contests in Iowa and South Carolina would be quite good.
Everyone seems to love to hate Sarah Palin; everyone, that is, except for the hardcore Republican base -- and yours truly. Her devoted following gives her a head start if she decides to run. And for political instincts, this woman makes Hillary look like she is standing still.
In some ways, Palin reminds me of female version of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The press dubbed him incompetent and unelectable. The people found him magnetic and about two tons smarter than he was given credit for.
Keep a watchful eye on Palin. She learned the ropes during her vice-presidential campaign as John McCain's running mate. My only advice to her would be to stop putting down every other Republican. Otherwise, she's good to go if she decides to run.