I believe that Mitt Romney is the best candidate for the country today. He has the experience of leading in both public and private capacities. His life is not littered with evidence of personal instability. He has the support of his family and the attention of the media. My confidence in his ability to be an effective leader for our nation is such that I have even donated to his campaign (a first for me). No other candidate or potential candidate appears to be as well suited for this job in our time.
As much as I like Mitt, I recognize that there are some other top-notch candidates out there. I would feel positive about the prospects of our nation if any of these top candidates were president.
Barack Obama has the charisma to energize people around him. He is intelligent and seems willing to go beyond appearances of what the political establishment endorses and choose to follow what he feels to be the best course on the issues. I believe that his time in the Senate has been enough to expose him to the realities of politics without being long enough to turn him into a jaded insider.
Mike Huckabee seems to be everything that Mitt Romney is except that he does not inspire so many people, nor garner the same media attention. He has the experience as governor to know how to lead and a life that demonstrates his convictions. In a different time he might even be a better candidate than Mitt, but today is not that time.
Tom Vilsack is another candidate who I would endorse as readily as Mitt, but he has dropped out of the race because he could not gather the media attention to keep his campaign afloat. He would make a fine addition to any ticket. In fact, he should be at the top of any ticket if he were still in the race himself.
Second tier candidates are those who I think could make decent but not noteworthy presidents. With some, such as John McCain and Bill Richardson, I had hoped to find top tier candidates. Their weaknesses in campaigning suggest that they are not so well prepared as those in the top tier. Others in this category include Joe Biden, Sam Brownback, Christopher Dodd, Rudy Giuliani, and Tommy Thompson. If he were still running I would have placed Jim Gilmore here as well. This is also where I would expect to place Fred Thompson if he formally entered the race.
Third tier candidates are those who are technically qualified so that I think they could be President, but who would likely be poor presidents. These include John Edwards, Daniel Imperato, Bob Jackson, and George Phillies. I would have included Hillary Clinton here, though as a front runner many would think me biased. Instead I felt that I could not endorse her because her history and the passion that many have against her essentially guarantee that she could not be effective. All the other candidates here would at least have hope of becoming effective.
If your favorite candidate is not listed above I would be surprised if they were also not listed among those I could not endorse. Those are Steve Adams, Donald Allen, Alan Augustson, John Bowles, John Cox, Mike Gravel, Jon Greenspon, Bob Hargis, Duncan Hunter, Mike Jingozian, David Koch, Steve Kubby, Dennis Kucinich, Charles Maxham, James Mccall, Ron Paul, Wayne Root, Joe Schriner, Christine Smith, Michael Smith, and Tom Tancredo. My reasons for not endorsing them can be found on their individual posts.