Helms and Hunt: The North Carolina Senate Race, 1984

By William D. Snider | Go to book overview

Jes-se!" "There's one thing I will do, I'll tell you the truth. Governor Hunt has a real problem in that regard. . . . [He] should install a WATS line for listeners to learn the 'falsehood of the day.'"

"What began as an ideological crusade for both sides" reported David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal, "is ending more as one long personal mission of search and destroy."


31. A Dead Heat?

As North Carolina reached the end of its costliest and most polarized senatorial campaign, both candidates agreed it was too close to call. But in the polls a slight movement toward Helms could be detected. On the final weekend a special Gallup Poll showed Helms leading 49 to 46 percent, while a Washington Post-ABC News Poll put Hunt up 46 to 45 percent.

The Tar Heel electorate was thoroughly weary of the mudslinging and media barrages, which, by some estimates, had approached twenty thousand television commercials. It was probably true, as the London Economist noted, that most of the voters had already decided how they would vote and little of the last-minute invective and attempted arm-twisting made much difference.

In the final days, the tone of the campaign became, if anything, even harsher. The governor's forces charged that an anti-abortion bill proposed by Helms in 1981 would have outlawed certain birth control devices used by millions of American women. Helms called Hunt a "consummate liar" and his allegations an "outrageous smear." The senator's wife, Dorothy, appeared in a television commercial in which she described the Hunt spot as "disgusting and dishonest." Hunt replied that the ads were accurate and that "if he [ Helms] doesn't believe they are accurate, let him go argue with Dr. Charles B. Hammond, president of the N.C. Ob Gyn Society." Hunt maintained that the bill, by defining human life at the moment of conception, could have opened the door to laws prohibiting forms of contraception that work after conception takes place. In 1981 physicians had testified against the Helms legislation, along the lines Hunt described, at a Senate subcommittee hearing presided over by Senator John East, who said the

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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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