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Friday, November 30, 2012

Rudman remembered fondly At Capitol Hill reception

WASHINGTON – Fond memories and kind words echoed off the high ceilings of Capitol Hill’s Senate Caucus Room on Thursday evening, as the late Sen. Warren Rudman was honored at a reception attended by Washington notables ranging from Vice President Joe Biden to current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine.

Perhaps the most poignant and pointed comments came from retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a lifelong New Hampshire resident whose 1990 nomination to the Supreme Court was largely engineered by Rudman. Rudman died last week at the age of 82 of complications from lymphoma. ...

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WASHINGTON – Fond memories and kind words echoed off the high ceilings of Capitol Hill’s Senate Caucus Room on Thursday evening, as the late Sen. Warren Rudman was honored at a reception attended by Washington notables ranging from Vice President Joe Biden to current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine.

Perhaps the most poignant and pointed comments came from retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a lifelong New Hampshire resident whose 1990 nomination to the Supreme Court was largely engineered by Rudman. Rudman died last week at the age of 82 of complications from lymphoma.

“No PAC ever owned Warren Rudman,” said Souter, who served as master of ceremonies at the reception in the Russell Senate Office Building. “No interest group, no corporation, and no big donor did. He was a Republican, and the Republican Party did not own him.”

“He was a New Hampshire man all the way through, and even the voters of New Hampshire did not own him if what they wanted went against the interests of the United States,” Souter said.

Souter said without Rudman, he would never have been appointed to the Supreme Court, from which he retired in 2009.

“The very fact of my association with Warren Rudman was taken by great many people as a standard for a qualification for the appointment,” said Souter, who served as a deputy to Rudman when the latter was New Hampshire’s attorney general.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte – like Rudman, a former New Hampshire attorney general -- told the more than 100 people in attendance that Rudman was “a statesman who carried out the people’s work with honesty, integrity, and decency.”

“He had New Hampshire in his blood,” said Ayotte, who now occupies the Senate seat that Rudman held from 1980-92. “And like the people he represented, he was straightforward and determined and he used his talents to pass very important legislation.”

One such piece of legislation was the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act, which – much like the Budget Control Act of 2011 that now may push the country toward the so-called “fiscal cliff” – contained the threat of automatic across-the-board spending cuts if Congress did not balance the budget.

After leaving the Senate, Rudman was a founder of the Concord Coalition, a group that advocated for getting the federal deficit under control.

Ayotte called Rudman “fiercely independent,” recalling that he considered himself “an American first, and a Republican second.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen called Rudman “a public servant who reached across party lines to get the job done.”

Like many who spoke at the reception, Souter referenced Rudman’s service in the Korean War.

“When it came to a fight, Warren was an old infantry soldier… he had come face to face with death in Korea, and he had come back, and there was no one on earth he was afraid of,” Souter said.

Among the Republicans who shared memories of their time on Capitol Hill with Rudman was another notable military veteran: Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was his party’s 2008 presidential nominee. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., co-chairman of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, and former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, a co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, also spoke.

“In this era when everybody in this town is focused on compromise, [Rudman] was the person willing to compromise,” said Gramm. “He cared more about his country than he did anything else.”