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By the time Jesse Helms was elected to the United States Senate in 1972, he had already established a reputation as a clear, strong communicator. From his high school days working for the local paper to his work as vice president and general manager of WRAL-TV, Senator Helms had made speaking and writing the talent upon which he built his media career. His most notable communications during his media career came during his time at WRAL. Starting in 1960 and lasting until 1972, Helms delivered more than 2,700 television editorials. Each "Viewpoint," as these editorials were named, was rebroadcast by radio through the Tobacco Network, which was owned and operated by the parent company at WRAL, and many were widely reprinted in newspapers around the country.


His newspaper, radio, and television experience proved invaluable once Helms entered the senate. His gift for direct and clear communication sharply contrasted that of other leading political figures. His floor speeches, opinion editorials, and letters all reflect his commitment to clarity and factual truth.


No one was ever forced to wonder which side of an issues Senator Helms was taking; he would tell them without any ambiguity. Those who opposed Senator Helms have made an effort over the years to direct the truth about the man, his philosophy, and his role in America's history. Their attempts ignore the fact that Senator Helms has left a rich record ofr historians to study.


Senator Helms rarely responded to attacks of his opponents. He trusted that the facts would outlast the lies. In a 1986 letter to Coretta Scott King, the Senator wrote, "I am myself a public figure whose 'image' has been remade by the media and otherse, as you put it, 'according to their own biased agenda.' No doubt this will continue after my death when public papers relating to my life and career will be subject to public scrutiny at the educational institution designated to receive them."


The Senator believed in the right of the American people to know the facts and form their own opinions. To that end, Senator Helms made it his policy to use his speaking opportunities as a means to inform his audiences. He explained the issues and consequences of poor policy or wrong action. His insight on the issues reflected his core belief thath true conservative principles offer practical and beneficial guidelines for the conduct of government at every level.


Simply put, what Senator Helms said made sense, especially to the American people who sought frank discussions from the their elected officials. Moreover, what he said is so firmly rooted in principle that we cannot help but apply his words to the issues we grapple with today.


This collection of public speeches and related commentaries will delight those who wish someone would just tell the truth as they see it. It will infuriate those who still think that big government can solve all problems. Either way, it will serve as confirmation that Senator Helms was an American original who believed in the goodness of God, the value of every human, and the power of freedom.


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