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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, a Nashua native, died Monday night

Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, a Nashua native, died Monday night from complications of lymphoma at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Rudman, 82, served two terms in the U.S. Senate from 1981-93 and became best known for his crusade against federal deficit spending. He co-authored a deficit reduction bill that required the federal government to reduce spending or come up with revenue to pay for it. ...

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Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, a Nashua native, died Monday night from complications of lymphoma at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Rudman, 82, served two terms in the U.S. Senate from 1981-93 and became best known for his crusade against federal deficit spending. He co-authored a deficit reduction bill that required the federal government to reduce spending or come up with revenue to pay for it.

The so-called Rudman-Gramm-Hollings measure played a pivotal role in the U.S. government ultimately balancing its federal budget for four straight years in the late 1990s.

“He was really a visionary,” said Tom Rath, who worked for and succeeded Rudman as New Hampshire attorney general. “He saw the explosion of entitlement spending and the need to get
serious about debt and deficits long before the rest of the political class.”

President Barack Obama used Rudman’s death to renew his plea to Congress for bipartisan work on avoiding the fiscal cliff.

“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 in a statement. “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 also worked with the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., to form the Concord Coalition, a national advocacy group dedicated to deficit reduction.

Rudman was a leading supporter and defender of David Souter, the Weare lawyer whom then-President George H. Bush named to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Souter served under then-Attorney General Rudman as a state prosecutor and later a state Supreme Court judge.

“Warren Rudman was like a brother to me,” retired Justice Souter said in a statement released by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “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.”

A Boston native, Rudman stayed active in the federal government after his retirement and led a presidential commission that examined securities abuses on Wall Street.

Former President Bill Clinton approached him about becoming treasury secretary to replace retiring Lloyd Bentsen, also a former Democratic U.S. senator from Texas. Rudman declined the offer.

Just after taking office, Clinton named Rudman, a moderate centrist, to serve on the White House Foreign Policy Advisory Board.

“Here you had a Republican getting a birds-eye view of the most important information in the daily brief that the president, a Democrat, sees every day,” Rath said. “This kind of sums up Warren Rudman: a supremely trustworthy statesman, a different type of politician who didn’t just talk about working both sides of the street politically; he lived it.”

Gov. John Lynch said Rudman should always be remembered as someone whose values never wavered.

“Warren Rudman worked 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,” Lynch said.

Rudman’s first wife, Shirley, died in May 2010. His only son, Alan, died in 2004 and he is survived by his second wife, Margaret Shean Rudman, who lives in Washington, and his two daughters, Laura Rudman Robie of Amherst and Debra Gilmore of Cape Neddick, Maine.

Two Nashua natives followed Rudman into the Senate: Republican Judd Gregg for 1992-2010 and Republican Kelly Ayotte two years ago.

“Warren Rudman was a national leader who made New Hampshire proud,” Ayotte said in a statement. “He was tenacious about reducing our debt, and he worked tirelessly to support our men and women in uniform.”

“A combat veteran, he showed bravery and courage as a platoon leader during his service in Korea,” Ayotte added.

Rudman worked as the in-house lawyer for then-Gov. Walter Peterson who promoted him to become attorney general. After Peterson’s defeat, Rudman sometimes publicly tangled with succeeding Gov. Meldrim Thomson.

A Marine veteran, Rudman had a blunt exterior and his friends concede he never lacked confidence.

“Warren was not a great backslapper or handshaker; he was very policy-driven and he did have this virile presence about him when he walked into a room,” Rath said.

Rudman died a month after John Durkin, the maverick Democratic senator whom Rudman retired from politics in 1980.

During that campaign, Rudman made national news by refusing to accept out-of-state political action committee money and became one of the first national figures to rail against the excessive influence that special-interest money had on the political process.

In the last month of his life, Rudman again showed bipartisan colors by videotaping an endorsement for Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerrey’s failed attempt to return to the U.S. Senate.

During the video, Rudman is seen to have lost much of his hair and speaks haltingly but with poignant emotion for a former colleague from the other side of the aisle.

“He was always very bipartisan, never nasty,” Rudman said of Kerrey in October. “The people of Nebraska are fortunate that Bob Kerrey is willing to try and return to the Senate.”

Rudman was a co-chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a retired partner in the international law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and previously sat on the board of directors of Raytheon, Collins & Aikman, Allied Waste Corp., Boston Scientific and a number of funds in the Dreyfus Family of Funds.

Rudman chose not to run for re-election in 1992 but remained in the political limelight. He was twice under consideration for vice president outside the GOP, first from independent H. Ross Perot, who offered him the second spot in 1996. Later Rudman was on a short list of potential running mates with Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

In 2000, Rudman co-chaired the presidential campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a colleague who became personally close to Rudman.

Upon his retirement from the Senate, Rudman got involved in executive management as lead director at several companies and assisted them in dealing with Congress and the federal bureaucracy.

Later, he would be called upon to serve on several commissions the Congress or White House created.

He and former Sen. Gary Hart co-authored what would become a clairvoyant report on the potential dangers to national security from foreign terrorist.

Rudman also was named to run an investigation into white collar crime and securities fraud at the behest of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rudman spent his later years in Washington, and friends report he remained focused on the presidential campaign and public policy right up until his death.

“What I always loved about Warren Rudman was it was America first and party second,” said former N.H. Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg, R-Hudson. “So many people in this business throw that rhetoric around, but Warren Rudman took it to heart, and I think it’s what made him so popular.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).