Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa today, making campaign appearances in Dubuque and Davenport.

Romney has made just three trips to Iowa this year — and one of those was for a nationally televised debate. Iowa State University political science professor David Peterson says the trick for Romney is to remain visible, without raising expectations.  

“Romney learned his lesson from four years ago where he spent a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of resources in this state unsuccessfully and that hurt him dreadfully,” Peterson says. “He can’t have that happen again.”

Peterson credits Romney with employing an effective campaign strategy in his second run for the White House.

“They’ve been smart to watch all of these candidates get their moment in the sun and he stays where he is, right? He just needs to outlast all these momentum bursts that we get from (other) candidates,” Peterson says. “If Romney doesn’t try very hard and somehow ends up winning Iowa, the race is pretty much over.”

Last week Romney skipped a televised manufacuturing forum in Pella and an Iowa GOP fundraising banquet. Five other candidates attended those events. Peterson says it’s part of Romney’s play-it-safe approach.

Romney is scheduled to be in Dubuque over the noon hour and in Davenport later this afternoon.