Gov. Terry Branstad is urging Republican presidential candidates to campaign in the state's lead-off caucus, saying there isn't a clear front-runner and everyone has a shot.
Branstad put out the invitation to candidates on Monday at his weekly news conference. It came in response to a weekend commentary published in the New Hampshire Union Leader that argued the Iowa Republican party has been marginalized by becoming so dominated by evangelicals.
Branstad told reporters his election is proof that candidates who focus on fiscal and economic issues can win in Iowa.
Branstad also said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's decision not to seek the Republican nomination has made the race even more open. Huckabee won the Iowa caucus in 2008 with strong backing from social conservatives.
Newt Gingrich, who recently announced his bid for the Republican nomination, has stops scheduled in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids on Monday.
Presidential hopeful Ron Paul has also opened an office in Iowa.