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Republican Sen. Jesse Helms says President Clinton is so unpopular on military bases in North Carolina that he "better have a bodyguard" if he visits the state.

"Mr. Clinton better watch out if comes down here," Helms, the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, told the News & Observer of Raleigh on Monday.The Secret Service has requested a transcript of the newspaper interview, although spokes-man Jaime Cagigas said it would be overstating the case to say the agency is investigating Helms.

"This would be the normal procedure for us," Cagigas said in Washington. "We are obviously with the president 24 hours a day - and are always concerned about comments regarding his safety."

Asked if the remarks appeared to be a threat against Clinton, Cagigas said, "I wouldn't think so. No. Certainly, in this instance, no. We always take into consideration the people making the remarks. We always take into consideration the setting."

Helms created a controversy when he questioned Clinton's qualifications as commander in chief last week. White House chief of staff Leon Panetta called the remarks reckless and Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, rejected Helms' claim that members of the armed forces share his views about Clinton.

Helms told the paper he did not regret making the comments to CNN, although he conceded, "I should have said it better."


Additional Information

Back on jogging trail

President Clinton went jogging on the streets of Washington Tuesday for the first time since a gunman sprayed the White House grounds with bullets. Clinton ran less than 2 miles near the Lincoln Memorial before running back to the White House.