Rep. Paul Ryan returns to Iowa this week, the battleground state where he held his first solo event as GOP vice presidential nominee and where polls show a tight race between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Ryan (R-Wis.) kicks off his two-day bus tour along the eastern edge of the Hawkeye State with a 7:50 p.m. rally Monday night at Loras College in Dubuque.

Then, on Tuesday, he will headline a morning town hall at the Clinton County Courthouse in Clinton, followed by an afternoon visit to Elly’s Tea and Coffee House in Muscatine and then a stop at a campaign office in Burlington.

The trip comes as Iowans begin their second week of early voting. In the 2008 general election, about 30 percent of all ballots were cast early, making the 40 days leading up to Election Day as much a focus of the campaigns’ get-out-the-vote efforts as the day itself.

It also comes as a Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend shows Obama taking 49 percent to Romney’s 45 percent in Iowa, giving the president a lead that sits just outside the survey’s 3.8 percentage-point margin of error. Other recent polls have shown Obama with as much as an eight-percentage-point lead over Romney.

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The Iowa events are expected to be some of Ryan’s only public campaign stops this week. On Wednesday, he heads to Virginia for three days of “debate camp” ahead of next week’s face-off against Vice President Biden in Danville, Ky. He’ll pause those debate preparations briefly Thursday night for a joint rally with Romney in Fishersville, Va.

On Saturday, Ryan — who typically spends Sundays at home with his family — is expected to head back to his home state of Wisconsin, where he will headline a fundraiser in Milwaukee, according to the Associated Press.

In a Monday morning radio interview with host Charlie Sykes, Ryan took aim at Obama, who he said had “duped” Americans into opposing his plan to overhaul Medicare.

“We’re going to run at these problems; we’re not going to run away from these problems,” he said, arguing that Obama’s policies are “racing us toward a debt crisis.”

He also said that he expects to be in Wisconsin “quite a bit as this campaign closes.”

“We showed in the recall elections that even though the media shows that we’re behind or that we’re close . . . what we had was passion,” Ryan said, referring to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) historic win in the June gubernatorial recall. “What we had was a phenomenal turnout organization. What we had was the citizens who spoke in the final analysis.”