U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., one of Congress' most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq, will be in Ashland on Friday for a town hall-style discussion on the situation there. He "expects it to be a pretty a lively discussion," an aide said this morning.

"September will be a critical month in terms of Iraq policy," Jennifer Hoelzer, also an aide to Wyden, said. "That's why he wants to hear from his constituents. It's the premiere issue facing our country."

The talk will be at 12:30 p.m. in the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall on Mountain Avenue. It is Wyden's third in a series of town hall forums at universities around the state this week. On Wednesday, he was at the University of Oregon in Eugene and on Tuesday he held a similar talk at Portland State University.

Hoelzer said the two previous meetings attracted more than 300 people, but not many supporters of the war.

"In general most people have been against it," she said. "But we've had a lot of diverse perspectives. A number of veterans have been attending, which has been great."

Wyden has been a consistent opponent of the war in Iraq. Before the United States invaded Iraq he was one of 23 senators to vote against authorizing the war. This May he was one of 16 in the senate to vote against a bill to finance the war.

"These town meetings are non-partisan gatherings, open to anybody who is interested in discussing issues important to the local community or pending federal legislation," Wyden said in a statement on his Web site.

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