Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum accused party rivals Mitt Romney and Ron Paul of lying about his record and pledged to respond aggressively. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum accused party rivals Mitt Romney and Ron Paul of lying about his record and pledged to respond aggressively.
Santorum Monday began what his staff says will be a new tack of specifically rebutting charges leveled against him and turning them back on his accusers, Politico reported.
The South Carolina primary is Saturday.
For example, he called on Romney to ask the pro-Romney Restore our Future political action committee to remove a line from a negative ad that says the one-time U.S. senator from Pennsylvania backed giving felons the right to vote.
"The position I supported is more strict than the position that Gov. Romney ruled over when he was governor of Massachusetts and did nothing to correct," Santorum said. "So maybe his super PAC should redo the ad to criticize Gov. Romney for being soft on felons."
Santorum also lit into Representative Paul of Texas for an ad in which Santorum was accused of being corrupt. A Paul attack ad against Newt Gingrich accused the former House speaker of serial hypocrisy.
"The organization that called me corrupt was an organization called CREW [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington], which is a left-wing radical organization … with the backing of George Soros. It is a complete canard," Santorum said. "This is absolute gutter politics on the part of Congressman Paul ... ."
Santorum, who's trying to become the consensus conservative alternative to Romney, said he expects the fight to intensify. He also has been taken to task for the amount of earmarks he steered to Pennsylvania during his tenure in the U.S. Senate.
"They've been hitting me in the last few days," he told Politico. "I don't know if they're taking a toll or not. It doesn't matter. To me, what matters is putting the truth out there and seeing the hypocrisy that Governor Romney has engaged in -- someone who has a record that's actually 'worse' than me on the issue of felons and someone who was aggressively seeking earmarks when he was governor of Massachusetts and then complaining to me that I did the same thing."