Early Returns: Handicapping '08

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Here is an early look at the premature run for president in 2008 already underway.

Republicans

Sen. John McCain

Plus: He has plenty of money, a prominent name, and experience after running in 2000.

Minus: Will the right wing, suspicious of his maverick manner in the past, turn to him?

Gov. Mitt Romney

Plus: He has appeal as a governor of bright-blue Massachusetts with oratorical flash and good looks.

Minus: Will the GOP turn to a Mormon who has shifted on some social policies?

Rudolph Giuliani

Plus: The proclaimed hero of 9/11 in New York City who has a gift at the microphone.

Minus: Will a confirmed liberal on social issues get a response from GOP conservatives in the South?

Newt Gingrich

Plus: The author of the Contract With America in the 1994 GOP takeover of the House is a whirling dervish in campaign bluster.

Minus: His personal life has negatives, and many don't really take him seriously.

Sen. Sam Brownback

Plus: A right-wing senator could fill a void when other rivals appear to be center right on most policy matters.

Minus: As a senator unknown outside his home in Kansas, he faces a formidable challenge in the primaries.

Rep. Duncan Hunter

In short, the congressman from California was the first man to announce. But is he kidding anyone?

Democrats

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Plus: She has the name identification, a bulging campaign treasury, and a huge lead in polls, no matter how meaningless this early.

Minus: Can she win, even if nominated, since she polarizes many voters?

Sen. Barack Obama

Plus: He's already a huge hit on the road, treated as a movie star in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Minus: As a freshman senator, his experience on the national stage is untested and he hasn't faced a real challenge yet.

John Edwards

Plus: He maintains some appeal as one who ran with John Kerry in a failed bid in 2004, but he came out relatively unscathed.

Minus: He is focusing his campaign on the poverty issue, a noble but hardly winning formula.

Al Gore

Plus: The presidential candidate who won the popular vote in 2000 has traction on the environmental issue and some carryover appeal from that controversial loss to Bush.

Minus: He's an old face and may not want to run.

Evan Bayh

Plus: He's a fresh face who wins elections as governor and senator in the very red state of Indiana.

Minus: He will be running as a confirmed moderate, tough in a primary dominated in many states by liberal activists.

Gov. Tom Vilsack

Plus: The outgoing governor of Iowa, an announced candidate, has an interesting life story.

Minus: Can an unknown duplicate Jimmy Carter in 1976? Most unlikely in 2008.

Others: Joseph Biden, Wesley Clark, and Christopher Dodd may or may not intrude into this crowded field, but they are facing tremendous obstacles.