Conservative icon Jesse Helms dead at 86


Raleigh, N.C. Jesse Helms, the firebrand U.S. senator whose outspoken, conservative views polarized North Carolina and U.S. voters for decades, died at 1:15 a.m. Friday in Raleigh, according to John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center.

He was 86. His cause of death was not released. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming, Dodd said.

Helms served five terms in the U.S. Senate, retiring in 2003 because of his faltering health. During his 30 years in Capitol Hill, the North Carolina Republican became a powerful voice for a conservative movement that was growing both in Congress and across the country, and he used his position to speak out against issues like gay rights, federal funding for the arts and U.S. foreign aid.


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