Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984

By William D. Snider | Go to book overview

He inspired great loyalty from his key people all over the state. They would absolutely follow Bert into the flames. He has that kind of personal loyalty."

By the early seventies Jim Hunt had, with the help of Bennett, set his cap for the lieutenant governorship. Governor Bob Scott had used that office as a staging area for the Governor's Mansion. In the same year Jesse Helms announced for the Senate, Jim Hunt announced for lieutenant governor.


3. "A Shy Young Fellow"

On the verge of his resignation from the presidency in the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon, by then besieged and lonely, called four members of Congress to seek consolation. One was the freshman senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. Helms said later that the President had called in response to a note Helms wrote him earlier. "My wife and I had been to church and the sermon was about loneliness," he said. "I got to thinking that this guy's got to be lonely, so I just dropped him a note."

Helms supported Nixon almost to the end of Watergate. But then he gagged on the White House tapes, especially Nixon's vulgar language. As a young aide to Senator Willis Smith in the early fifties, Helms had gotten to know Senator Nixon, but he had never noticed such outbursts then. "Why I'd never heard him say 'damn'. . . . I was repulsed by the language [in the tapes]. Perhaps he was just trying to match Kennedy and Johnson in the use of profanity."

From that moment Senator Helms gradually abandoned the Nixon ship. But he had never supported the President completely. He vigorously opposed Henry Kissinger's appointment as secretary of state and his friendship with Nelson Rockefeller. ( Helms was later to say of Rockefeller, "He's a wife stealer.")

A foreign policy that favored negotiating with the Kremlin made Helms nervous. "My loyalty is to the principles of conservatism," he told a group of young conservatives in 1973, "not to any particular regime. . . . It pains me to say this, but the current administration [ Nixon's] cannot escape a large measure of blame for the current easy acceptance of Leviathan-like government expansion. This expansion has, if anything, become even faster under the current administration."

-18-

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Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Prologue 3
  • Mr. Clean and the Fire Chief's Son 5
  • I. Patriarch and Upstart 7
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 10
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 18
  • 2. Salt of the Earth People 25
  • 5. Too Proud to Be Proud 31
  • Naysayer and Pragmatist 37
  • 6. the Lone Ranger 39
  • 7. a Touch of Camelot and Carter 43
  • 7. a Touch of Camelot and Carter 49
  • 10. a New Direction 58
  • Master Campaigner and Avenging Angel 63
  • Ii. Political Tarnish 65
  • 12. Catching Hand Grenades 70
  • 13. Against the Wind 78
  • 114. Helms at Bay 82
  • 114. Helms at Bay 91
  • 114. Helms at Bay 95
  • 17. That Old-Time Religion 104
  • Epochal Battle or Mud Fight? 111
  • 18. "I'Ll Carry It" 113
  • 19. "Helms Can't Win" 117
  • 20. the D'Aubuisson Connection 122
  • 21. the School of Hard Knox 128
  • 22. the Windsor Story 136
  • 23. When Helms Wasn't Helms 139
  • 24. Time Out for Party Time 146
  • 25. the Big Guns of August 150
  • The Helmsmen Ride High 157
  • 26. a Severe Identity Crisis 159
  • 27. the Reagan Tide 167
  • 28. "Macabre Wild Card" 179
  • 30. Search and Destroy 186
  • 31. a Dead Heat? 194
  • 31. a Dead Heat? 201
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