Former Sen. Jesse Helms, who built a career along the fault lines of racial politics and battled liberals, Communists and the occasional fellow Republican during 30 conservative years in Congress, died on the Fourth of July. He was 86.
"It's just incredible that he would die on July 4, the same day of the Declaration of Independence and the same day that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, and he certainly is a patriot in the mold of those great men," said former North Carolina GOP Rep. Bill Cobey, the chairman of The Jesse Helms Center at Wingate University.
Helms died at 1:15 a.m, the center said. He died in Raleigh of natural causes, said former chief of staff Jimmy Broughton. "He was very comfortable," Broughton said. Funeral arrangements were pending