Governor Branstad says if he has a chance later this week, he’ll tell Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a “skip Iowa” strategy isn’t the right path to the presidency. 

Iowa’s Caucuses are the first scheduled contest in the nominating process, and later this week Romney will make his first appearance in Iowa this year.

“I understand if you’re from Massachusetts, you’re at a disadvantage when you’re competing with people from neighboring states,” Branstad says. “Nevertheless, I do think it’s important to compete here and maybe you don’t have to win, but doing relatively well — and he’s considered the national front-runner, so I think being in the top three is important in Iowa.”

The former governor of a neighboring state has formally launched his campaign in the past 24 hours. Tim Pawlenty posted a video on his campaign website on Sunday and plans to deliver a speech in Des Moines over the noon hour today. 

“I’m encouraged about the fact that Governor Pawlenty has chosen to announce in Iowa, not in Minnesota,” Branstad says. “And he also has chosen to do it at the Historical Building which is where I announced my candidacy for governor, so I consider that to be a complement.”

As for the politicians who’ve considered running and then decided against launching a campaign for the White House, Branstad says he can understand why people are leery of the “scrutiny” presidential candidates face.

“Some people just don’t want to have to go through that,” Branstad says. “But if you want to run for president of the United States, you know, you’d better expect the fact that anything and everything that’s ever happened in your life or in that or your family will be carefully and meticulously reviewed and scrutinized.”

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced Sunday he would not run for president. Daniels, in a written statement, said he loves his country, but he loves his family more — and his family did not want him to run.

Branstad made his comments during his weekly news conference.  Listen to the audio from that news conference here.