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Warren Rudman hailed as bipartisan leader, invaluable mentor at N.H. memorial service

  • Justice David Souter hugs Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, after Souter delivered the closing remarks at the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and Rath were some of Rudman's closest friends. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Justice David Souter hugs Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, after Souter delivered the closing remarks at the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and Rath were some of Rudman's closest friends.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Former US Supreme Court Justice David Souter greets friends as he walks into the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire attorney general and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and former attorney general Tom Rath, center back, were some of Senator Rudman's closest friends. In the foreground, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Governor Maggie Hassan greet each other. Both Ayotte and Hassan spoke at the memorial as well. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Former US Supreme Court Justice David Souter greets friends as he walks into the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire attorney general and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and former attorney general Tom Rath, center back, were some of Senator Rudman's closest friends. In the foreground, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Governor Maggie Hassan greet each other. Both Ayotte and Hassan spoke at the memorial as well.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Guests enter the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Former US Senator Gordon Humphrey, center left, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, right, were among the speakers at the memorial. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Guests enter the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Former US Senator Gordon Humphrey, center left, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, right, were among the speakers at the memorial.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • A collage with clippings from newspapers and magazines was on display outside the door to the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    A collage with clippings from newspapers and magazines was on display outside the door to the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, embraces Margaret Shean Rudman, the widow of the late Warren B. Rudman following his memorial on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, embraces Margaret Shean Rudman, the widow of the late Warren B. Rudman following his memorial on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Justice David Souter hugs Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, after Souter delivered the closing remarks at the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and Rath were some of Rudman's closest friends. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Former US Supreme Court Justice David Souter greets friends as he walks into the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire attorney general and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Souter and former attorney general Tom Rath, center back, were some of Senator Rudman's closest friends. In the foreground, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Governor Maggie Hassan greet each other. Both Ayotte and Hassan spoke at the memorial as well. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Guests enter the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. Former US Senator Gordon Humphrey, center left, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, right, were among the speakers at the memorial. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • A collage with clippings from newspapers and magazines was on display outside the door to the the court room where the memorial for Warren B. Rudman, former New Hampshire Attorney General and United States Senator, was held on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Tom Rath, a Concord attorney and former state Attorney General, embraces Margaret Shean Rudman, the widow of the late Warren B. Rudman following his memorial on Friday, January 25, 2013 at the United States Courthouse that bears his name in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

Warren Rudman’s legacy is all around us: in his legislative model for taming the budget deficit, in the federal courthouse that bears his name, in his example of bipartisan leadership and, perhaps most of all, in the capable people he mentored and advanced in public life.

That was the consensus yesterday as senators and governors, friends and colleagues gathered at the Warren B. Rudman United States Courthouse in Concord to remember its namesake, the former New Hampshire attorney general and two-term U.S. senator who died Nov. 19 at the age of 82.

“Warren believed that one person, motivated and willing to work hard, could effect meaningful change and make a real difference in the lives of people. And then he went on to prove it,” said Bob Stevenson, Rudman’s former press secretary.

Again and again during the nearly two-hour service, speakers talked about Rudman’s ability to mentor and promote able public servants – none better known than David Souter, his one-time deputy in the attorney general’s office, whom Rudman helped elevate to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990.

Souter, now retired after 19 years as an associate justice, said yesterday that the lessons Rudman would teach the nation were first taught to those who knew him at the beginning, working under him in the attorney general’s office.

“We were in a position to . . . learn that you don’t solve most public problems by shouting at the other guy, ‘I win, you lose.’ We were in a position to understand that equally principled people could disagree, and strong principled people could have the courage to compromise for the sake of getting public business done and actually advancing a broad public interest,” Souter said. “We couldn’t help but learn that in public life, Public Enemy No. 1 was the ideologue. And we couldn’t fail to understand that Warren Rudman followed Theodore Roosevelt in believing that the most powerful politics is the politics of decency.”

Rudman, a moderate Republican and Korean War veteran, served as governor Walter Peterson’s counsel before becoming the state attorney general, a job he held from 1970 to 1976. He created the office’s environmental protection and consumer protection units.

And after Democratic U.S. senator John Durkin blocked President Gerald Ford’s nomination of Rudman to the Interstate Commerce Commission, Rudman ran against him – and won – in 1980.

In Washington, Rudman became known as a deficit hawk. In 1985, he helped crafted the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reform bill, which set up a system of automatic budget cuts to reduce the federal deficit.

The same model, known as sequestration, was used in 2011 when Congress and President Obama sought to find a way to reduce the deficit.

“If the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act had been followed by subsequent Congresses, today we would not be struggling with this country’s long-term deficits and our national debt,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

Rudman also helped lead the joint congressional committee that investigated the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987, and the Senate Ethics Committee when it investigated the “Keating Five” senators in the late 1980s. In 1990, he helped persuade President George H.W. Bush to appoint Souter to the Supreme Court.

After two terms in the Senate, Rudman practiced law and continued to advocate for a balanced budget, chaired the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and, with former Colorado Democratic senator Gary Hart, co-chaired a national security commission that in January 2001 warned of the danger of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Yesterday’s memorial service was the second for Rudman. Vice President Joe Biden and other officials paid tribute to him at a ceremony in Washington at the end of November.

A dozen people spoke yesterday, including Shaheen and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Maggie Hassan and former governor John Lynch. Many paid tribute to Rudman’s record of bipartisan cooperation, his reputation for blunt straight talk, his honesty and his leadership.

The most emotional tributes came from close friends like Souter and Tom Rath, who worked in the attorney general’s office under Rudman and later, like Souter, became attorney general himself.

Rath described Rudman as tough and smart, pugnacious and kind, a man who was sometimes cranky but always loved to laugh.

“Warren did not lead a life as much as he attacked life, with passion and energy, intellect and the sheer force of his personality,” he said.

And, he said, a key part of Rudman’s legacy is in the many people he worked with, taught, nurtured, nominated and advanced, who went on to serve the state and the nation.

“They – we – are Warren Rudman’s legacy,” Rath said. “He found and empowered so many good people who have done so many good things.
. . . He saw something in each of us that I’m not sure we even saw ourselves . . . and he told us to trust it.”

Former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey, a Republican who served with Rudman in Washington for a decade, called on the audience yesterday to pick up the torch of fiscal conservatism and deficit control that had been carried so long by Rudman.

“Wouldn’t it be great if here, in this room, in these hearts, we rededicated ourselves to Warren’s quest to save this republic from financial shipwreck, and if this rededication were to go out from this room to this city, to this state and all across this land?” Humphrey said. “How much better a memorial to Warren B. Rudman than this pile of bricks? How much better? I suggest that that would be a fitting memorial to our friend.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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