Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is not pleased with some of the candidates’ attempt to either bypass the Iowa caucuses or campaign from afar.

He e-mailed me a short time ago to say, “The Iowa caucuses are important because it is an opportunity to meet directly with voters who are sincerely interested in the future of our country. A lot of people right now are very concerned about the direction of the nation and want to make sure we have the right leader.”

He wrote that candidates who don’t show up are hurting themselves: “I believe it is important for a candidate to meet directly with people and share their vision and their plan to get the nation’s financial house in order and restore confidence in private sector job creators.”

Branstad’s communications director, Tim Albrecht, was even more blunt. Herman Cain hasn’t set foot in Iowa for months. Albrecht tells him: “He’s making a catastrophic decision by not playing here. He’ll have to put in serious time in Nov and Dec. He’s GOT to organize in [Iowa’s] 1774 precincts.”

Candidates should think twice about disregarding that advice. Both Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have been in the state continuously. They understand the adage that many caucus voters aren’t going out on a cold January night to support a candidate unless they have met him or her, probably several times.

It’s not clear that Branstad will endorse, but Albrecht advises, “He’s keeping his options open.” He’s likely not going to reward someone who has ignored the retail politics that Iowans demand.