Republican North Carolina Representative Walter Jones died today at the age of 76, according to a statement from the Congressman’s website. Jones served in Congress for 34 years, representing a district in the eastern part of North Carolina. His health began declining after he broke a hip in January, and he entered hospice in the last month.
In recent years, Jones’ politics became less traditionally conservative and more libertarian and populist. At a 2009 Duke University awards ceremony, Jones told a crowd that the Republican Party “needs to have a face that can be seen and identified with by people of all races. The future of the Republican Party lies in being able to relate to the average working family.”
Jones was perhaps most well known for coining the phrase “freedom fries,” renaming the french fries in the Capitol’s cafeteria in a symbolic break with France over their unwillingness to support the war in Iraq.
Later, Jones became one of the few Republicans to oppose continued involvement in Iraq, sponsoring several bills that attempted to force George W. Bush to bring the troops home and end the war. In 2005, Jones said the U.S. went to war “with no justification.” He also criticized the ability of the president to authorize military actions without the approval of Congress.
In 2010, asked about the “freedom fries” incident, Jones said he ““[wished] it had never happened.”