Discuss as:

Santorum: Romney wouldn't 'tell the truth to the American people'

 

TOPEKA, Kansas -- As he aims to frame the GOP nominating contest as a "two-man race," an aggressive Rick Santorum on Friday attacked rival Mitt Romney as untrustworthy and politically moderate at his core.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people," he told a crowd of about 250 supporters at a railroad station-turned-museum in Topeka.  "We don’t need another nominated by our party to do the same."

Santorum, seeking a strong showing in upcoming Southern primary contests, accused Romney of planning a swift move away from conservative principles if he wins the nomination.

"The Romney campaign can’t wait to get out of this primary," he said. "Guess why? They can start tacking to the middle now, start getting back in the comfort zone."

In his critique, Santorum zeroed in on Romney's backing of mandated health care coverage during his tenure as Massachusetts governor. Romney says he never advocated for such a requirement on a national level, while Santorum pointed to several recently uncovered video clips as evidence to the contrary.

"Washington insider Rick Santorum is lashing out at Mitt Romney because he can’t accept the fact that it’s nearly impossible for him to win the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded, pointing out Santorum's statement in a recent debate that he "took one for the team" in helping pass bipartisan legislation. "This is yet another case of Sen. Santorum abandoning principle for his own political advantage."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback made an appearance at the Topeka rally, standing in the back of the audience clad in a sweater vest - a garment frequently worn by the presidential hopeful. Brownback told reporters that his presence was no endorsement but was merely intended to show support for the GOP candidates appearing in the state; he also made a stop at an event held by Ron Paul earlier in the day.

Despite a strong performance expected in this weekend's caucuses in Kansas, Santorum's path to victory over Romney remains hazy. 

But Santorum was cheery about that possibility on Friday.

"You know the other day Governor Romney was going through the math of all the delegates and said it would take an act of God for Rick Santorum to get all of the delegates he would need," he said. "Well, I don’t know about him, but I believe in acts of God."