CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Political colleagues of the late Republican U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman recalled his bluntness, passion for justice and leadership at a program that marked the public opening of a center named for him at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at UNH is named for Rudman, who died in 2012. The center aims to promote leadership skills in its students and instill a commitment to justice.
‘‘Warren represented the finest ideals of public service. He placed national purpose above political expediency,’’ said former Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Former Republican New Hampshire Gov. Steve Merrill called Rudman ‘‘principled, fearless and bipartisan.’’
‘‘I liked that he not only worked with both sides of the aisle, he fought with both sides of the aisle,’’ said Merrill.
The dinner kicked-off the center’s one-day conference featuring a long list of politicians and policy makers, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas. Called, ‘‘The Federal Budget and the Law: Finding a Way Forward,’’ the conference will feature sessions on promoting fiscally responsible policy and encouraging bipartisanship, two of Rudman’s political missions.
Snowe was an honoree Sunday night, the recipient of the Warren Rudman Award. It is intended by the School of Law to be an annual honor to those who reflect Rudman’s values.
Rudman, known for his bipartisanship, was praised by politicians from both parties — from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was the evening’s keynote speaker.
‘‘Warren Rudman was gruff, irascible, dissatisfied, blunt, impatient, occasionally profane, independent minded, stubborn — my ideal senator, who possessed all the essential attributes of an irresistible personality,’’ said McCain.
McCain recalled his friendship with Rudman, which was strengthened when Rudman agreed to help McCain during his 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He said Rudman advised him to speak honestly to the voters of New Hampshire.
Rudman had immense integrity, McCain said, and never put friendship above seeking justice.
Rudman served New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate for two terms and earned a reputation as a leader and a fiscal conservative. He co-sponsored bills which sought to force the government to reduce spending and joined with the late Paul E. Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, to form the Concord Coalition in the 1990s, a group dedicated to educating the public on the budget deficit and finding a bipartisan solution to increasing debt.