This is a series of first impressions based largely on what I saw and a minimum of research. I am not at this time ready to endorse a candidate, although I will identify some whom I will not support in any way.
Huckabee - SBC Minister, Social conservative. Illegal-alien friendly, too much so for my taste. I will not support a presidential candidate who deliberately failed to enforce US laws as governor and who promises not to enforce them as president. No new tax pledge, which I support. He does have a good stage presence. He also he the best answer to a 'gotcha' question re: death penalty: "Jesus was too smart to run for public office." He also had an excellent answer on the Bible question. Supports flat tax, wishes to trash the IRS.
McCain - Immigration amnesty--which takes him out of the running for my support as well. He talks a good game on financial conservatism talk is good. Supports line item veto, shutting down pork, and pushing money back down to the states to address infrastructure agreement. Does his record in Congress verify this stance? Don't care enough to research it because I have too many problems with him on immigration, the McCain-Feingold Act, and other issues.
He does want to win war in Iraq and specifically states that we should not set a withdrawal date. He's anti-waterboarding, duh. I'm surprisingly OK with that, and I didn't think Mitt Romney should have sat there and argued with him on it.
It was thoroughly entertaining to watch him pimpslap Ron Paul on the subject of Vietnam. He also correctly states that Islamic terror will follow us home if they win in Iraq.
Guiliani - He ran a "Sanctuary City" and otherwise did not support efforts to kick illegals out of this country. He correctly states that he was limited in his ability to deal with immigration issues because the Federals were falling down on the job. If this were my only problem with him, I'd be willing to possibly give him the benefit of the doubt. He has suddenly converted to being a True Believer on the subject of the 2nd Amendment, but I know too much about his history to believe it is sincere. No new tax pledge, but he is pro-farm subsidy.
When asked a question regarding gun control, he talked about crime control. Unrelated issue, IMHO. That worries me, because folks who confuse the two tend to end up with the simplistic solution that banning guns will reduce crime. He feels Abortion should be a state issue.
He wants to take offense against Islamic terror, but friendly to rest of Islam. Whatever.
He supports school choice.
He also gave a good answer to the question regarding infrastructure rebuilding and has a record to back it up. Believes the line item veto is 'unconstitutional'.
Thompson - Like his stance on Illegal Immigration, which is nice and tough. He will not pledge not to raise taxes, which makes me raise an eyebrow. His position on gun rights is good.
He favors overturning Roe v. Wade and returning the issue to the states. Believes Iraq is part of a bigger war on Islamic Terror. Committed to winning in Iraq. Admits Social Security is broke and wants to fix it.
Mitt Romney - He supports the Fair Tax which I approve of. No new tax pledge, but pro-farm subsidy and pro-ethanol subsidy. Ethanol is a scam that bothers me. Lots of yick-yack about family values but what is he going to do with it? Many of the candidates have solid programs they wish to support or implement or whatever, he's just giving me rhetoric. He doesn't like abortions, but doesn't think consensus in US is there to end them. He gave us more generalizations/ rhetoric on etitlements, but no hard answers. Good Stars and Bars answer--it just ain't that important.
Tancredo - Doesn't like legal immigration. No new tax pledge. Says "Radical Islam" which few candidates did. Identifies Radical Islam as threat to US. Seems to be pretty much a one-trick pony, because it was all immigration all the time. He's also hostile to legal immigration, which turns me off immensely. It's hypocritical. "Tancredo" is not a Native American family name. I have huge issues with a man whose grandparents were immigrants attacking all immigration as bad for the United States. I guess those of us whose ancestors were here in the 19th century ought to kick his ass back to Italy.
Duncan Hunter - I like his immigration policy. He's an Airborne Ranger and son is marine.
A+ NRA Rating and believes in 2nd Amendment--and his answers were sincere and passionate on the subject. He supports victory in Iraq, and say he will "Never apologize for the United States of America" in response to a question about shoring up US image abroad. Supports don't ask don't tell.
Ron Paul - He's a full-fledged lunatic. Goes on about the "Council of Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission." Immediate withdrawal from Iraq and all overseas military commitments. He is confused on facts in regard to Iraq. He cannot correctly identify factions or sects in Iraq, which is highly disturbing for a man running for President of a nation at war. Outright statements of falsehood on Vietnam. Isolationist in extreme. Wants the government "out of our wallets" and to rebuild infrastructure which is an impossibility.
CNN - likes 'gotcha' questions, and ringers (declared democrats, political activists, etc) Many of the questions were hypothetical in the extreme, or simply so silly that the only purpose could have been to portray Republican or Republican candidates negatively. But a lot of them were good questions. It's a mix.
A Liberal Meme floating around claimed that Col. (ret) Keith Kerr was 'booed' by the 'evil'
Republican Audience. Not true. Applauded twice.
Basically, Fred Thompson or Duncan Hunter are the two that look least objectionable at this stage in the game. We'll see.