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In Their Own Words: ‘He had New Hampshire granite in his veins’

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte spoke on the Senate floor this week about former senator Warren Rudman, who died Nov. 19. Here are excerpts from their speeches:

Shaheen: Senator Rudman was widely and deservedly hailed in both life and now in his death as a public servant who reached across party lines to get the job done for his country and his state. Warren Rudman did not to do this out of weakness. He acted so because of the strength and courage that marked his entire life.

An Army combat veteran of the Korean conflict, Warren Rudman earned a Bronze Star Medal. He was an amateur boxer. As the attorney general for the state of New Hampshire, he was a ferocious prosecutor. His memoir was aptly entitled Combat.

As a United States senator, Warren Rudman relished taking on big battles. In the 1980s he joined with Sens. Fritz Hollings and Phil Gramm in a bipartisan effort to tackle deficits. If the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act had been followed by subsequent Congresses, we today would not be struggling to reduce massive deficits. He did not shrink from holding a president of his own party accountable when he served on the congressional panel investigating the Iran-contra affair.

Nor was he reluctant to hold his fellow senators accountable when he chaired the Senate Ethics Committee.

Warren Rudman’s public service did not end after he left the Senate. Most notably, he co-chaired with another former senator, Gary Hart, a national security commission that correctly predicted a terrorist attack within America’s borders.

Warren Rudman was always blunt and outspoken.

During the Iran-contra hearings he said to Oliver North, “The American people have the constitutional right to be wrong. And what Ronald Reagan thinks or Oliver North thinks or what I think or what anybody else thinks matters not a whit.”

He said he left the Senate because Congress was “stuck in the mud of strident partisanship, excessive ideology, never-ending campaigns.” . . .

But it was his more quiet work that Warren Rudman was most proud of. His greatest achievement, he said, was his behind-the-scenes efforts to get David Souter, another son of New Hampshire, nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sometimes forgotten is Senator Rudman’s authorship of and successful push to enact the Small Business Innovation Research program which, still, to this day enables small businesses to compete for federal research and development awards.

Warren B. Rudman lived a long and full life. His service graced the Senate. To the end he had New Hampshire granite in his veins.

Ayotte: Warren Rudman embodied the very best of New Hampshire – frugal, fiercely independent and totally committed to the common good. When he saw his country headed in the wrong direction, he stepped up to serve.

It wasn’t the first time Warren Rudman answered the call to duty.

He had already distinguished himself in the U.S. Army, serving as a combat platoon leader and company commander during the Korean War. It was there that he saw the horrors of war and became convinced of the need for American military supremacy. For his brave service, he was presented the Bronze Star. . . .

After completing law school, Warren entered private practice – where he remained until being called to serve once again. Only this time – he was recruited to bring his energy and ideas to state government.

Warren quickly proved himself as the governor’s chief of staff. Then – at age 39 – he was appointed to serve as New Hampshire’s attorney general, an office he modernized to meet the needs of a changing state.

A “tough on crime” AG who personally tried criminal cases, Warren Rudman earned a reputation for standing firm on principle, even when it wasn’t popular. It was perfect practice for the battles he would fight later in Washington. . . .

Warren Rudman’s name will forever be linked with his landmark effort to rein in federal spending. The Gramm-Rudman legislation was borne of the bold idea that the federal government shouldn’t spend beyond its means. When it was signed into law, annual deficits were $200 billion.

Imagine how much better off we’d be today if we’d heeded his warnings.

Warren’s zeal for responsible government went beyond reducing spending. As a former prosecutor, he was seen by his colleagues as someone who was committed to fairness, truth, and independence. When the Iran-Contra scandal erupted in 1986, the Senate moved to investigate – and Warren Rudman was selected to serve as the committee’s top Republican.

At the outset, he made one thing clear: “I consider myself an American first and a Republican second.”

It was a commitment he kept – helping to lead a nonpartisan inquiry that pursued the facts. . . .

Warren Rudman will be remembered as a statesman – someone who loved his country and wanted to make it better.

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