U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway plans to make some opening remarks about the war in Iraq, but otherwise he expects to be mostly listening to constituents during tonight’s town hall meeting.

“I’ll basically be listening,” Conaway said Wednesday evening after arriving in Brownwood on the final leg of a tour of his 11th District.

The public is invited to the meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today in Constitutional Hall at the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom on the Howard Payne University campus, at the corner of Austin and Coggin avenues.

The second-term Republican Congressman from Midland has been holding similar meetings throughout the expansive district for the past 10 days during the summer recess, including stops in Llano, San Angelo, Sweetwater, Midland and Odessa. He said two issues have dominated comments he’s heard at each event.

“It’s immigration and the war,” Conaway said. “Even when they would move into other areas, it would always dovetail back to those issues. I don’t expect it to be much different here.”

Conaway said the mood across his district is less optimistic concerning the war than it was two or three years ago, but support is still strong for what the United States is trying to do in Iraq. But those who are against the war have become more vocal about it, and he appreciates their opinion, saying it’s a decision each citizen has to make.

“It’s not about patriotism or love of country,” Conaway said. “Let’s get beyond that. I cross-examine the reasons why I continue to support the war every day, and I hope other Americans do the same about what they think.

“To those who would have us get out of Iraq this afternoon, I ask that they would help us understand how we would handle the regional disaster that’s going to happen if we did.”

Americans, he added, will need to be open to a very broad definition of what success — as opposed to winning or losing — in Iraq means.

“It’s not going to look like our government,” Conaway said of Iraq’s future.

He said Congress is anticipating the September report of David Petraeus, commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq, but he resists making contingency plans based on what the general might say then.

On other issues, Conaway said the presidential campaign season starts far too early, but it has become an economic force for states that hold an early caucus or primary. He also said he has decided to work for the nomination of Republican Mitt Romney after initially thinking he would not endorse a candidate. He said he was impressed by Romney after he saw him talking to various groups, and realized that with each one, “he was the same person.”

Conaway also supports more transparency in government spending.

“Growth in federal government is our single biggest threat, and it’s something we seldom talk about, much less address,” Conaway said. “With all our programs, we have $53 trillion in unfunded promises we’ve made to each other. But that’s 40 years down the road, so it’s human nature to put it off… I think the solutions ought to involve you and me paying for them, instead of being passed off to the future.”