Mitt Romney won more than twice as many delegates on Super Tuesday as Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. The Non-Fox Media's take-away is that Romney suffered a major setback Tuesday night.
No matter what happens, Barack Obama's boosters in the NFM portray it as a debilitating blow to Romney. On Nov. 7, The New York Times' headline will be: "Romney ekes out narrow electoral victory, leaving race uncertain."
To explain the widening gulf in delegates won by Romney compared to the others -- he now has more delegates than all other candidates combined -- the media claim that a vote for any candidate other than Romney is an explicit vote against Romney.
Of course, even the NFM can't pretend Ron Paul's supporters would pick Gingrich or Santorum, both big-government, career politicians, as their second choice.
But in what universe would the second choice of Santorum supporters be a two-time adulterer on his third marriage, who lobbied George W. Bush to support embryonic stem cell research?
And are we to presume that voters who have no problem with Gingrich's $1.6 million payoff from Freddie Mac would be morally offended by Romney's hard-earned wealth? That voters willing to forgive a man who called Paul Ryan's Social Security reform plan "right-wing social engineering" could never trust Romney?
Why isn't it possible that votes for Santorum are votes against Gingrich, and vice versa?
The NFM doesn't explain. Reporting their hopes and dreams rather than the facts, they simply assert that all votes for Santorum or Gingrich are "anti-Romney" votes.
It's not Republicans who are looking for the anti-Romney. It's Democrats.
Obama is already spending millions of dollars on anti-Romney ads. Obama's campaign adviser David Axelrod, is desperately tweeting anti-Romney messages all day long. In open primaries in Michigan and Ohio, Obama's Democratic supporters came out to vote for Santorum or Gingrich. MSNBC hosts openly encourage Democrats to vote for Rick Santorum.
There's a reason liberals are frantically searching for an anti-Romney candidate. While it's true that any of the Republican candidates for president would be an improvement over Obama, it is not true that any of them can beat him.
It's not easy to take out an incumbent president, even one far to the left of the voters, whose policies have directly resulted in millions of unemployed workers, as well as putting billions of taxpayer dollars in the pockets of his friends on Wall Street, at Solyndra, in public sector unions, etc., etc.
In the last century, only a handful of incumbent presidents have lost an election. Until Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, the last time a Republican took out a sitting president was in 1888, when Benjamin Harrison beat Grover Cleveland.
Inasmuch as Cleveland was a pro-business, conservative Democrat -- known today as "a Republican" -- and also because he was defeated more than a century ago, the Reagan playbook is the only one worth studying.
Reagan didn't beat Carter by calling him a "radical," a "socialist," a "Kenyan colonialist" or a "fake Christian." Part of being smart enough to be president is being smart enough to know how to win. Presidential candidates:
Leave the name-calling to professionals.
He didn't do it by running as a Christian warrior, though he was certainly a Christian. He didn't prattle about contraception and stay-at-home mothers. And to the best of my recollection, Reagan never proposed colonizing the moon.
Reagan beat the odds and took out an incumbent by waging a charm campaign to win over independents, moderates and undecideds.
Reagan strategist and pollster Richard B. Wirthlin told The Washington Post that Reagan's objective in his debate with Carter was to come across as a reasonable candidate who could appeal to moderates. Deputy campaign manager William E. Timmons told The New York Times: "Reagan will be calm, cool and collected." Other Reagan advisers told the Times their strategy was to make Reagan look "knowledgeable and reasonable," not rash or risky, in order to reassure undecided voters.
The sainted Ed Meese, Reagan's chief of staff, said Reagan would simply "point out the failures of the Carter record." Not call him a socialist or fake Christian. Just a failure.
(Reagan's debate crib sheet: 1. Appear reasonable and calm; 2. Don't propose colonizing the moon.)
Portrayed by Democrats as a shoot-from-the-hip cowboy itching to get us in a hot war with the Soviets, a few weeks before the election, Reagan bought a half-hour of TV time to present himself as the very opposite of a firebrand.
The ad showcased testimonials from the likes of Henry Kissinger and a smiling Reagan reassuring voters that "the cause of peace knows no party."
Reagan stayed out of the weeds on highly charged debates on social issues, although he was unequivocally pro-life and pro-religion.
One month before the election, The Christian Science Monitor reported that Reagan "ended a campaign week by dipping into the Bible belt ... gingerly."
Speaking to a group of religious broadcasters, Reagan said: "Because you are professionals, I know how much you respect and strongly support -- as I do -- the separation of church and state." (Though at other times during the campaign, he also said that that principle should not mean separation of country from religion, adding, "We are a nation under God.")
It was Reagan's opponent, Jimmy Carter, who played up the fact that he was a born-again Christian -- albeit a born-again Christian who took 25 years to say that he was not "convinced" that "Jesus Christ would approve abortion."
Bravely spoken, sir!
For Evangelicals concerned about a Mormon president -- or any Christians still trying to make sense of the Carter presidency -- recall that Martin Luther said he'd rather be governed by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.
Reagan's charm campaign worked so well that even the liberal U.S. News & World Report remarked that Reagan "presented a more reasonable, pragmatic image than in 1976."
Reagan was able to sell challenging ideas to moderates because he wasn't being constantly upstaged by loud-mouthed idiots attacking him for being insufficiently pure (as governor of California, he raised taxes more than any other governor in U.S. history and signed the most liberal abortion law in the country) or muddying the water with utterly irrelevant battles about contraception.
Liberals never dreamed that they would get so much assistance from alleged conservatives in undermining Obama's most formidable opponent!