Ayotte honors life, legacy of Senator Warren Rudman
November 30. 2012 12:36AM
Mr. President, I rise today to honor the life and legacy of Warren Rudman – a senator from New Hampshire whose intellect, courage, and conviction brought honor to this institution.
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.
Following his return home, Warren Rudman settled in Nashua – his hometown – where he raised his family.
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 ran for the Senate in 1980 because the issues he cared about were being neglected. He believed in a strong national defense. And he saw the nation’s fiscal situation careening dangerously off course – threatening the country’s future.
As a first-term senator, that’s where he made his mark. 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 non-partisan inquiry that pursued the facts. He saw himself as asking tough questions on behalf of the American people – and he expected answers.
With the nation in turmoil, Warren Rudman stood firm for the rule of law. His rigorous commitment to uncovering the truth brought credit to this body – and great pride to the people of New Hampshire.
Of course, representing their interests was his true passion. Warren Rudman had New Hampshire in his blood – and he brought New Hampshire common sense to Capitol Hill.
While Warren was at the center of some of the most consequential debates in Washington, he always put his constituents first. In fact, legislation he authored to help small businesses continues to benefit entrepreneurs in the Granite State.
Shortly after arriving in the Senate, the first bill he introduced was the Small Business Innovation Research Act – which aimed to bolster small high-tech companies in New Hampshire and across the nation. To this day, the S.B.I.R. program continues to help small defense and technology companies through competitive grants.
Senator Shaheen and I have worked across party lines to streamline and extend SBIR – continuing the efforts that Warren Rudman started a generation ago.
Warren Rudman will be remembered as a statesman – someone who loved his country and wanted to make it better.
In bidding farewell to the Senate in 1992, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve with such talented colleagues.
He also expressed his hopes for the Senate’s future, saying: “It is a very special place, with very special people, and I hope in the coming years the institution can coalesce to bring those talents together in a bipartisan way to do what is good for America.”
As our country continues to face great challenges, may all of us remain mindful of Warren Rudman’s wise words and the powerful example he set.