In the Republican political race, there's only two top dogs: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and someone else. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum desperately wants to be that someone else, and he's pulling out all the stops to transform into the Republicans' anti-Romney candidate of choice.


Appearing at a media briefing on Tuesday morning after a bruising debate, Santorum claimed that Romney "deliberately lies" and stands "behind those lies" in order to gain the advantage on his opponents.

He seemed utterly flabbergasted that a Romney-supporting super PAC would release an ad that claims he supports voting rights for convicted felons -- something Santorum and Romney squared off about during Monday's debate.

"And he says that's accurate?" Santorum asked. "That is... I... I... I'm stunned. I'm actually stunned, that he would... he would... that is, that is... I'm stunned. That Mitt Romney doesn't have the ability to be able to discern something that is blatantly false, and then blatantly gives a false impression that he believes that's accurate. Again, this is a character issue. He's playing dirty, dishonest politics."

He went on to add: "We don't need someone who supports lies and promotes lies and stands behind those lies in order to get elected president. We need someone who's going to tell the truth to the American public, not someone who's going to deliberately lie and stand behind those lies to get elected."

Santorum predicted that once the field narrows to just one non-Romney candidate, "there's going to be very different election outcomes."

Recent polling has found Santorum lagging far behind Romney and tying with Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 16 percent. Romney was leading the Republican field with 32 percent support among South Carolina voters, a Reuters/Ipsos survey found.

The crucial South Carolina Republican primary is on Jan. 21, followed by Florida on Jan. 31. Both contests are seen as make-or-break for Romney's rivals.

This video is from CNN, broadcast Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.