Link National Journal Updated: 7:56 a.m. CT Oct 10, 2007 WASHINGTON - Tuesday, former Sen. Fred Thompson participated in his first debate, and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney finally got the chance to challenge each other on taxes. So these rankings may look very different in two weeks. By the way: We, uh, welcome back Ron Paul. These rankings are ordered by likelihood of winning the Republican Party primary and are based on a number of factors, including organization, money, buzz and polling. REPUBLICAN RANKINGS 1. Rudy Giuliani Former New York City mayor Last Ranking: 1 Stars are aligning. It's not his nomination to lose, but there's a clear path to win for him. The latest NBC/WSJ poll shows that three out of four GOP voters care more about issues Giuliani can prove he's conservative on (terrorism, taxes and education/health care) than issues he struggles with re: conservatism (moral values and immigration). If the primary becomes a referendum on those two issues, Rudy's in trouble -- but so far, it's not. The electability thing seems to be an added trump card, but how does he make peace with the Christian conservative activist crowd? Does he do a sit-down? Is he making personal phone calls? What's Ted Olson up to behind the scenes? 2. Mitt Romney Former Massachusetts governor Last Ranking: 3 After languishing a bit for the last month, it seems Romney's camp has a plan for how to tackle Rudy: Ignore Thompson and try to make this a two-person race again. The good news for Romney? The media seems ready to bite. 3. Fred Thompson Former Tennessee senator Last Ranking: 2 If anyone is in need of a re-launch, it's Thompson. It seems silly after just a month, but he needs something to go against the media stereotype that's hardening on him. Not sure what we'd suggest (not our job), but we're wondering: Where is this different kind of campaign he promised? 4. John McCain Arizona senator Last Ranking: 5 His base (the media) seems desperate to deal him back in, but what's going to happen to McCain if he loses in Iowa to Paul and Huckabee? Can he really turn it around again in New Hampshire? 5. Ron Paul Texas congressman Last Ranking: 7 Look who's crashing the party! His $5 million is impressive because no one on the GOP side is raising BIG bucks. And don't write off Paul's supporters as simply angry anti-U.N. black helicopter types. There's been anger from the GOP's less-government libertarian wing for some time, and Paul may be becoming the protest vehicle for those folks. It'll be interesting to see which of the front-runners actually "gets it" and tries to co-opt some of Paul's supporters. 6. Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas governor Last Ranking: 4 A lot of our colleagues love to talk up Huckabee, and there's no question he's been great at the debates. But can we acknowledge that the reason he isn't getting more traction is that he -- not Thompson -- is the laziest Republican in the field? Had Huckabee done the hard work two years ago of courting donors and then been willing to go a million miles on a plane to talk to folks who could build a campaign (not simply put his face on TV or his words in print), he'd be in the first tier, raising $8 million or $9 million a quarter. 7. Sam Brownback Kansas senator Last Ranking: 6 There's no real reason to rank him any more. 8. Duncan Hunter California Congressman Last Ranking: 9 There's no real reason to rank him any more. 9. Tom Tancredo Colorado Congressman Last Ranking: 8 There's no real reason to rank him any more.