November 20. 2012 11:02PM

Rudman remembered for public service, championing fiscal responsibility

State House Bureau

Former New Hampshire Attorney General Warren Rudman campaigns for the U.S. Senate in Concord in the fall of 1980. Rudman defeated incumbent Democrat John Durkin in that election and served two terms in the Senate, developing a reputation as a strident opponent of federal budget deficits. (BOB LaPREE/UNION LEADER FILE)
CONCORD - Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman left his mark on the country and New Hampshire, from the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act to the federal courthouse in Concord that bears his name.

Friends and colleagues remember Rudman as a principled man who influenced a generation of attorneys in New Hampshire with his amazing grasp of law and public policy. Rudman could be abrupt and brash, they said, but knew how to work both sides of the aisle and devoted much of his life to the causes he championed such as federal deficit and debt reduction, and protecting national security.

Rudman, 82, died just before midnight Monday at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., from complications of lymphoma. He had been in declining health for some time.

Rudman's first campaign manager, friend and one-time legal partner, Manchester attorney Brad Cook, called him "one of the great public servants in New Hampshire in the 20th century."

Cook said Rudman was another of the great legacies of former Gov. Walter Peterson, who died last year.

"Walter plucked a young attorney in Nashua to be his legal counsel and then named him attorney general," Cook said. "There would be no (U.S. Supreme Court) Justice (David) Souter without Warren Rudman, no Tom Rath with all the good he has done and his influence, and no Brad Cook. He got more out of people than they knew how to give."

President Barack Obama noted Rudman's service to New Hampshire and the country and called him the embodiment of Yankee sensibility and New England independence.

"As an early advocate for fiscal responsibility, he worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to call attention to our nation's growing deficit," Obama said. "And as we work together to address the fiscal challenges of our time, leaders on both sides of the aisle would be well-served to follow Warren's example of common-sense bipartisanship."

Rudman was instrumental in the appointment by President George H.W. Bush of now-retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who served as his deputy attorney general. He pushed Bush to appoint Souter to the Supreme Court and helped shepherd his nomination through the Senate.

"Warren Rudman was like a brother to me. A man is incomparably lucky to have had a friend that close who stood for what the founders of the American republic staked its future on," said Souter.

Rudman, who was New Hampshire attorney general from 1970 to 1976, established the legal agency's consumer protection and environmental divisions and fiercely protected the office's independence.

Deficit reduction bill

In the U.S. Senate, Rudman was best known for co-writing the deficit reduction bill with fellow Republican Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas and Democrat Ernest Hollings of South Carolina. The bill required "sequestration" of federal funding if deficit targets were not reached. The move helped reduce the federal deficit.

Gramm said Tuesday: "He was my faithful friend and brilliant partner in that good work, and his convictions were evident in his determination to better the opportunity to succeed for ordinary working Americans who likely would never know his name."

The man who replaced Rudman in 1993 representing New Hampshire in the Senate and followed in his footsteps fighting for fiscal frugality, former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg said Tuesday Rudman was a huge player in the state's political life as well as in Washington, D.C.

"He brought a lot of respect to New Hampshire in the way he represented us," Gregg said. "He was a leader who did important things: whether on international policy, where he was an expert, or on domestic spending issues with Gramm-Rudman, a major discipline on federal spending."

Gregg noted he and Rudman were good friends and their families grew up together in Nashua where Rudman's father owned a manufacturing plant across the street from his grandfather's.

"It was a great honor to follow him in the Senate and try to live up to his standards," Gregg said.

Man of principle

Others spoke of Rudman's principles and his willingness to work across party lines for the good of the country and the state.

Rudman chaired the Senate Ethics Committee and served on the committee that investigated the "Keating Five," senators with ties to the savings and loan fiasco in the early 1990s.

As a member of the Senate Iran-Contra Committee, he chastised Reagan administration officials for their dishonest testimony and lectured Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North about the secret sales of weapons to Nicaragua.

Gov. John Lynch said Rudman was a man who worked across the aisle and was true to his principles.

"Warren Rudman work tirelessly to serve the people of New Hampshire and the nation. As a leader in the U.S. Senate, he was someone who stuck to his principles, yet was able to reach across the aisle to work toward a bipartisan resolution on the issues of the day," Gov. Lynch said.

Reputation for toughness

His Senate colleague for 10 years in representing New Hampshire, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey said Rudman had a reputation for being tough, but did what he believed was right for the country and the state.

"Senator Rudman had a reputation for a toughness, and tough he was in some matters, but underneath he was a likable guy, and I enjoyed serving ten years with him in the United States Senate. We had an excellent personal and professional relationship," Humphrey said. "He served our state and our nation well, and I am saddened at his death."

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, like Rudman, was attorney general and had not run for elected office before being elected to the U.S. Senate.

"Warren was a fighter who had the courage of his convictions, and he always stood up for what he believed was right regardless of the consequences," Ayotte said.

Concord Coalition

In 1980, Rudman defeated former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Durkin, who won one of the closest U.S. Senate races in history, and was running for re-election. Durkin died last month.

Rudman easily won reelection in 1986 before deciding to retire after his second term.

After Rudman left the senate, former President Bill Clinton asked him to become his Treasury secretary but he declined. Clinton did appoint Rudman as vice chair of the influential President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Not long after he left office, Rudman formed the Concord Coalition with former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas to bring attention to the country's financial problems and growing debt.

Rudman and former Colorado U.S. Sen. Gary Hart were co-chairs of the U.S. Commission on National Security, which called for the establishment of a department of homeland security in 2001, eight months prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

Before and after his retirement from the U.S. Senate, Rudman was associated with the Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green law firm in Manchester.

Rudman was active in national presidential campaigns, including fellow Senator Bob Dole's 1996 effort and John McCain's 2000 bid.

He was an Army combat infantry commander and saw much action during the Korean conflict.

Memorial service

Rudman was born in Boston, Mass., on May 18, 1930. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1952, and from Boston College Law School in 1960.

At the time of his death, Rudman was co-chair of the international consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group and was of counsel to the New York-based international law firm Paul, Weiss.

His autobiography "Combat: Twelve Years in the US Senate" was published in 1996.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret Shean Rudman, who resides in Washington, D.C., his daughter, Laura Rudman Robie, of Amherst, N.H.; his daughter and son-in-law, Debra and Dan Gilmore; three grandchildren, Ben, Sarah and Rebecca Gilmore; and two sisters, Jean Gale of Cape Neddick, Maine, and Carol Rudman of Washington, D.C.,

Rudman's first wife, Shirley, died last year. Their son, Alan, died in Maine in 2004.

Memorial services are planned for both Washington D.C. and New Hampshire. The Washington service in Washington will be the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 29 at a yet-to-be determined location.

The family requests that donations be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, the Salvation Army, or the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

- - - - - - - -

Garry Rayno may be reached at