With the tempo of current political change seemingly speeding up by the day right now, my prediction is that by the end of the elections in November, Romney will be talked about heavily in the mainstream media (MSM) as the clear choice for Republicans in "08. In short order we can expect to see him rise to national pre-eminance as the contender.
Rudy seems to have not made a move yet, and that will be a handicap, because within a week after the midterm elections, the 08 race will become the hot news story ( notwithstanding any wars or sex/murder/kidnap scandals). Much of this will be due to the fact that Democrats and many in the media are so anxious to see Bush leave the White House that they will practically foam at the mouth with giddiness on the first opportunity to talk about the election which will replace GWB. They will not wait to start talking about something to them as tasty as a replacement for the oval office. The fact that Rudy has done virtually nothing up to this point to prepare for an 08 run means he will not be ready to leap from the starting line in a sprint next month, when the 08 politic games will likely kick-off.
McCain I believe will be devoured by Romney in quick time to win the loyalty of Republican voters. McCain will have a following, but it will not be from the center-right.
Belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not really be much of an issue for Romney in this race (as far as him having to convince voters about it). It will be an issue only inasmuch as the MSM and the left want it to be. They will trumpet it all the day long and hype it into something it is not, but in the end, people who vote for him really wont care one way or the other. People will be aware that Mitt is LDS, because the media will hang it in front of their face 24/7, but other than that, it will not be why they vote for him. I do expect that toward the end of the race that his opposition will make ugliness of the issue and get real low in trying to smear him with lame attacks on his faith. I think that in the end, the MSM will disgust most people with their lack of context, fabrication of controversy and disdain for people of faith in general.This disgust should help Mitt even further.
These are thoughts on how I see things going right now. I may be totally wrong in my assessments. There may be to many "s's" in that last word, but I am not sure where to pull it out, so it stays for now!