Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday led a tribute on Capitol Hill to the late GOP Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, recalling him as "forthright, frugal and fair."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a close Rudman friend from New Hampshire, were among many friends and former colleagues from both parties at the memorial event.
Rudman, who died Nov. 19 at 82, co-authored a ground-breaking budget balancing law, championed ethics and led a commission that predicted the danger of homeland terrorist attacks before 9/11.
The feisty former New Hampshire attorney general went to the Senate in 1981 with a reputation as a tough prosecutor, and was called on by Senate leaders, and later by presidents of both parties, to tackle tough assignments.
"His honesty could be searing," Biden said, but Rudman also showed deep compassion and faith in the dignity and wisdom of ordinary Americans.
McCain praised Rudman's character, his lack of pretense and his willingness to buck his party when he felt Republicans were wrong.
"Besides being gruff, irascible, blunt and impatient ... Warren Rudman, first and last, was a man of integrity."
Souter saluted the independence and courage of Rudman, a combat veteran of the Korean War.
"There was no one on the face of the earth he was afraid of," Souter said.
Rudman, at the same time, never hated those he disagreed with, said Souter.
"What he'd do instead is stick his hand out," Souter said.
Reid said Rudman, who was Jewish, learned to be tough at an early age battling bigots, but added "his rough exterior belied such a soft manner."
"When I think of him, the word irrepressible comes to mind," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.