Governor Branstad expects the polls to shift in the closing days of the Iowa Caucus campaign.

“I think we’ve got a really wide open race…We could see the lead change hands a couple more times before Caucus night,” Branstad says. “But the real test is going to be not these polls, but the actual vote that occurs on Caucus night.”

Branstad has occasionally chided candidates for failing to campaign as intensely in Iowa as candidates have in the past, but this morning during his weekly statehouse news conference Branstad said he was “pleased” with the “amount of activity” in the state from “each” of the candidates.

“There’s been a lot of fluidity in the race,” Branstad said, “but we’re approaching Caucus night on January 3 and people are going to need to make up their mind and decide who they think is the strongest and the best candidate.”

Branstad, just elected to his fifth term as governor in 2010, will not be endorsing a candidate before the 2012 Caucuses. He did endorse in 1996, during his fourth term as governor, and Branstad campaigned extensively for Bob Dole. Dole endorsed Mitt Romney this weekend, and Dole called Branstad last week to give him the news.

“Actually, I don’t think I want to say the rest of it, but,” Branstad told reporters, laughing. “Well, I’ll (tell you)…He wanted to suggest me for vice president. I told him, ‘I’m not interested,’ so I was flattered…that’s not something I ever even thought of.” 

Branstad told reporters he “didn’t want to start any rumors” and the vice presidency is not something he’s interested in because he wants to stay in Iowa.

“I’m not really contemplating going to Washington, D.C.,” Branstad said.

Branstad is Iowa’s longest-serving governor.  Dole campaigned for Branstad in 1978, when Branstad was running his first statewide race, for lieutenant governor. Branstad was elected governor in 1982.  

AUDIO of Branstad responding, during his weekly news conference, to reporters’ questions about Caucus campaign