M. Stanton Evans, conservative pioneer and anti-communist crusader, dies at 80

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M. Stanton Evans, a conservative icon who helped shape the political movement from the time of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in the early 1960s to Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, died Tuesday, The New York Times reported. He was 80.

A friend told the paper that the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Evans is perhaps most famous for drafting the Sharon Statement in 1960 on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom. As a 26-year-old protege of National Review editor William F. Buckley Jr., he enunciated the central ideas of moral conservatism, which preach political and economic liberty, a limited government and the defeat of communism.

"Stan Evans was an integral part of 'The Second Generation' of the American conservative movement," The Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said in a statement. "His efforts, alongside those of other great thinkers such as Paul Weyrich and Phyllis Schlafly, built the political and policy apparatus that helped carry Ronald Reagan into the White House in the 1980 election."

On Tuesday, several notable conservatives paid tribute to Evans on Twitter.