Rudman “always had the national good in mind,” said former U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings.
“He wasn’t extreme one way or the other, except for the good of the country,” said Hollings from his South Carolina office. “He was balanced. That’s what we need.”
In 2001, before the 9/11 attacks, he co-authored a report on national security with former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart that said a major terrorist attack on American soil was likely within 25 years.
“No one seemed to take it seriously, and no one in the media seemed to care,” Rudman said in 2007. “The report went into a dustbin in the White House.”
It was revived after the Sept. 11 attacks, and one suggestion, forming a Homeland Security Department, was adopted. Six years later, Rudman said the sprawling department wasn’t functioning well and the country would be hit again.
“It is not a question, I’m sorry to tell you, of ‘if.’ It’s a question of ‘when,’” Rudman said.
A former New Hampshire attorney general, Rudman was named chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee in 1985, a sensitive job that many colleagues avoided.
Throughout his Senate career, Rudman was cited for his work on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, where he supported a strong national defense but opposed expensive, high-tech weaponry.
The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act was approved in 1985. It was designed to end federal deficits by 1991 and required automatic spending cuts if annual deficit targets were missed.
Congress rolled back the timetable each year, and the 1991 budget that was supposed to be balanced carried the second-highest deficit in history. In 1995, 10 years after the law went on the books, Rudman lamented what could have been.
“Had we stuck to that plan, had the Congress not failed to follow it through — in fact, had presidents not failed to follow through — we would not be where we are today,” Rudman said.