I think this thread is narrowing the decisions well. I'll join the chorus
Remington Model 700 or Winchester Model 70. I prefer the 700, but these guns are the Coke and Pepsi of hunting rifles. Both are wonderful.
I prefer a wood stock, but if you need to save a few hundred, the SPS synthetic Model 700 is solid.
For caliber, .270 Winchester. It's an outstanding hunting cartridge. It is decently powerful, moderate recoiling, flat shooting (important for a newbie), and plentiful and common in stores.
For optics, I prefer a mid-range Leupold, I also consider Nikon, Burris, and Swarovski solid glass, but Leupold is my flavor.
A Remington 700 BDL(Basic Deluxe) or CDL(Classic Deluxe) in .270 Winchester with a mid-range Leupold 3x9 optic is a combination that will serve most hunters well for a lifetime.