Former US Senator Jesse Helms dead at 86

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Jesse Helms.

Former United States senator from North Carolina Jesse Helms has died today at the age of 86 after a long battle with vascular dementia.

"Jesse Helms was one of the most consequential figures of the 20th century. Along with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, he helped establish the conservative movement and became a powerful voice for free markets and free people," said Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Helms was born Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr. on October 18, 1921 in Monroe, North Carolina. He was a five term senator for N.C. and was also a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman. He also became the first U.S. lawmaker to speak in front of the United Nations Security Council.

Helms opposed the use of American troops in Bosnia saying "I will not support sending American soldiers to fight and to die for the sake of an agreement not yet reached which may offer no more than the promise of a brief pause while all sides prepare for the next round of Balkan wars."

In 2002, Helms received the Clare Boothe Luce Award, which is the foundation's highest award. The Foundation stated, "[Helms is] dedicated, unflinching and articulate advocate of conservative policy and principle."

At various times throughout his career Helms created controversy with his ties to Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, his unflinching support of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and statements viewed by some as racist and homophobic.


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