Governor Branstad is defending the bus tour President Obama took through the Midwest earlier this month and the 14-city tour Branstad himself took last week through northwest Iowa.

“I’m not one to criticize the president of the United States for getting out and seeing the people,” Branstad says. “There was some other criticism that was made by other people and people have a right to express their opinion on those things.”

The head of the Iowa G.O.P. criticized Obama for making taxpayers foot the bill for the president’s trip, suggesting Obama’s campaign should have picked up the tab. And the head of the Iowa Democratic Party has questioned why Iowa taxpayers should foot the bill for Branstad’s recent tour, since Branstad’s campaign sent out the tour schedule and invited Iowans to attend.

“We were meeting with the public and communities all across the state…The office sent out a release and the campaign sent out a release,” Branstad says. “We tried to do everything we could to maximize public awareness of where we were going.”

The Iowa Democratic Party has asked Branstad’s office to reveal how much his 43-city tour of Iowa in June cost the state treasury. Branstad says that information will be released as soon as it can be compiled.

“I can tell you we do things in a very economical way,” Branstad said. “The lieutenant governor and I actually traveled together in one van and we stayed at Super 8 Motels…so I think people will be surprised at how little it cost.”

Republicans complained about the armored bus the president rode on during his mid-August bus tour, which stopped in Decorah and Peosta. Iowa G.O.P. chairman Matt Strawn said Obama’s tour had “everything to do with politics and nothing to do with policy.”

As for Branstad’s tour of the state, Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky used similar language, saying it was part of Branstad’s desire to run a “continual campaign.”