Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

Iowa’s five-term governor is headed to Tampa this weekend for the Republican National Convention.

It’s the eighth time Terry Branstad has been a convention delegate.

“My first convention was when Gerald Ford was nominated in Kansas City in 1976,” Branstad says. “And I was a delegate for Reagan in 1980 and 1984.”

Branstad attended the 1988 and 1992 conventions, then in 1996 Branstad endorsed Bob Dole early in the Opwa Caucus campaign and was a Dole delegate at the ’96 convention in San Diego. The last convention Branstad attended was in 2000, in Philadelphia, when George W. Bush won the party’s nomination.

“I’ve had a little bit of a sabbatical,” Branstad says. “But I’m excited about going back for this 2012 convention.”

The convention’s keynote speaker is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Branstad says Christie and others can describe how Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, govern.

“The focus on getting America’s fiscal house like Republican governors have done in their states — that’s the focus that I hope you’ll hear from a lot of people at the convention,” Branstad says, “and I want to do what I can to help get that message across.”

Iowa Republicans are sending 28 delegates to the national convention, 23 of whom support Ron Paul rather than presumed nominee Mitt Romney. Branstad says he isn’t concerned about the factions within the Iowa GOP.

“I think you’re going to see the delegation very much united behind the reforms and the improvements that the Romney-Ryan ticket wants,” Branstad says. “So regardless of who people initially support, at the end of the day I think Republicans are going to be very united.”

Key Ron Paul supporters from Iowa expressed shock and disappointment Friday when a GOP committee voted to require that delegates to future national conventions be bound by the popular vote in state primary and caucus contests. If that were the rule today, Paul backers would have significantly fewer delegates. Branstad says it makes sense to bind the delegates to the outcome of voting on Caucus night.