GOP's big names jockey for position at The Peabody

Some big names in the GOP are here this evening. U.S. Senators Bill Frist, George Allen of Virginia, Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusettes has arrived, and Senator John McCain is expected later tonight.

This weekend is an opportunity for presidential wannabees to convince delegates they can run the country.

For the GOP, the road to the White House in 2008 begins at the Peabody Hotel and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Just ask Senator Lamar Alexander.

"What people really do here is look you over...President of the U.S. What kind of leader you would make in a time of war, so people are sizing you up," said Alexander, (R) Tennessee.

You could call it a "cattle call" for White House hopefuls. But some Republican leaders say it's still too soon to scout for a presidential candidate.

"This is a bit premature to be talking about the 2008 election, when we've got an election to go through this year," said Lott, (R) Mississippi. "And we should keep an eye on this year's election in the House and Senate and support this president."

Hardball's Chris Matthews says it's still to early to tell who's out in front when it comes to the GOP nomination in 2008. But he has some ideas.

"I don't think they will run," said Matthews, an MSNBC anchor. "I think they'll find a conservative who is one of them... a George Allen."

And there's no doubt any Republican candidate will need the southern states to claim victory in 2008.