Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a group of business executives in Pella this afternoon that America has a growing “perception” problem overseas and he touted his own business background as the best option for voters who’ll be choosing a president in 2012.

“You know, wouldn’t it be nice if people in Washington had actually spent a good part of their career working in the real economy? They’d have the experience of being in a small business or a big business or some business, some enterprise of some kind and understood how the world works,” Romney said during the hour-long discussion.

One executive sitting at the conference table suggested that should be a “prerequisite” for the presidency, prompting Romney to quip: “If that’s the case, I’m in, I think.”

Romney said Americans are “fearful, but not panicked” about the economy and he argues the federal government’s debt must be reduced before the nation’s economy can recover.

“We have a president that has failed to lead in getting America to stop spending more than it takes in,” Romney said. 

This is Romney’s second trip to Iowa this year, and Romney hinted he may step-up his campaign schedule here.

“I imagine you’re going to see more of me from time to time between now and sometime early in January,” Romney said to the business executives. “You’re going to be having a little event here, some Caucuses here, and I’d like to do darned well in those Caucuses.”

While Romney decided not to participate in Saturday’s Iowa GOP Straw Poll, Romney will be on stage in Ames Thursday night debating most of his rivals for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Texas Governor Rick Perry won’t be in that debate, but he’ll be in Iowa Sunday to make it clear he’s entering the GOP presidential contest.