Indiana Senator Evan Bayh says he won’t let the presidential ambitions of Iowa’s governor keep him out of Iowa.

Bayh, who’s in the midst of his fifth visit to Iowa in the past 12 months, says he respects Governor Tom Vilsack — a fellow Democrat — but Bayh says anyone considering a run for president must make their case to Iowans. Bayh also says Iowa and New Hampshire should continue to hold the first and second events on the presidential campaign calendar. “I think it’s important that we have some places where you can meet people one-on-one. They can get a good sense of who you are, what you believe, what you’re really made of and it’s just hard to do that in some of the larger states where it’s just all about television and mass communications,” Bayh says. “Coming to places like Iowa — being in people’s living rooms, in coffee shops and union halls — I think that’s an indispensable part of choosing the right person and that’s why I favor the way the system has been.”

Governor Vilsack sanctions the idea of placing another state’s Caucus between after the Iowa Caucuses and before New Hampshire’s primary, but Bayh doesn’t. “I think Iowa and New Hampshire do a good job of what they do. I favor diversity as well and if other states need to be accelerated to provide more of that then that’s good but I do favor Iowa and New Hampshire maintaining their historic roles,” Bayh says.

Bayh is also stressing his Senate experience in comparison to Iowa’s Governor, who lacks foreign policy credentials. Bayh did serve as a governor, but then went on to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate and has been a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It’s a fact that we live in a dangerous world and the role of commander-in-chief is possibly the most important role for a president, so it helps to have experience with national security, to be familiar with what’s going on with North Korea, Iran, Hezbolla, Hamas, al Quaida — those kinds of things,” Bayh says.

According to Bayh, the next president needs to know what he’ll do in the foreign policy before he’s elected. “We can’t afford to have on-the-job-training,” Bayh says. “Secondly, we know Karl Rove and the Republicans are going to attack us on this. We need somebody who’s capable of standing on that stage and going right back at ’em and saying ‘Look, you’ve done a lot to undermine our nation’s security. We can do better.'”

Bayh says the Bush Administration has “tragically mishandled” Iraq and has lost focus on other “hot spots” like North Korea and Iran. Bayh made his comments today (Friday) during and after taping of an Iowa Public Television program that will air on Friday, June 14th and again the following Sunday.