George J. Mitchell Oral History Project
 

Interviewee

Warren B. Rudman

Interviewer

Brien Williams

Date

6-2-2010

ID Number

GMOH 221

Document Type

Interview

Subject Headings

Budget Committee, Iran-Contra, Legal career, Majority Leader, Middle East, Sharm el-Sheikh, U.S. Senate culture

Abstract

Biographical Note
Warren B. Rudman was born on May 18, 1930, and served as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1980-1993 representing New Hampshire. He worked with George Mitchell on the Iran-Contra and Sharm el-Sheikh committees, but they had known each other earlier through their respective legal careers. He was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and served from 1993-2001.

Summary
Interview includes discussion of: legal careers; Iran-Contra; position of Senate majority leader; Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee; Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act to balance the budget; relationships between senators; and changes in the Senate over the years.

Restrictions

This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.

TEXT

Brien Williams: This is an oral history interview for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project at Bowdoin College with former Senator Warren Rudman, who is now chair of the Albright-Stonebridge Group. We are in the Albright-Stonebridge offices in Washington, D.C., today is Wednesday, June 2, 2010, and I am Brien Williams. I thought I’d like to start this way, Senator: when you were invited to participate in this project about George Mitchell, what were some of your first thoughts?

Warren Rudman: Well, that there ought to be an oral history, because his career has been so rich and so full, and so diverse in addition. He is just an extraordinarily wonderful human being, who I’ve considered a friend for a long time.

BW: When did you and he first encounter each other?

WR: Well, we actually met each other before either one of us were in the Senate. I was attorney general of New Hampshire, he was U.S. attorney in the state of Maine, and then of course when Muskie was named secretary of state, he became Muskie’s replacement for a short time. However, before that he was a federal judge, so he was U.S. attorney, federal judge, appointed United States senator, and we knew each other in all three of those iterations.

BW: Did you have any particular professional cooperation?

WR: Yes, I believe we did. I obviously don’t recall, but my being attorney general in New Hampshire while he was U.S. attorney, there would have been things that, there was mutual jurisdiction, mutual concern. But I knew George before I came to the Senate.

BW: Right. And he preceded you just by a few months into the Senate.

WR: By a few months, that’s correct.

BW: In 1980, and when did you have first contact with him, on the Senate floor or in committees?

WR: Very early on, I mean probably in the first two days.

BW: Did you share any committees?

WR: No, we did not.

BW: Let’s go ahead then to the Iran-Contra, because that was really when, at least as far as I’m aware, when the two of you worked very closely together.

WR: We did.

BW: And what was that experience like?

WR: Well, it was an extraordinary experience, because we both had very similar backgrounds, and Senator Inouye of Hawaii recognized that and he named me vice chairman, as opposed to ranking member, and asked George Mitchell to work closely with me in staffing Iran-Contra. And we selected Arthur Liman to be chief counsel, and then we developed the staff together and we worked very closely in getting ready for those hearings. And once the hearings started we tended, both having similar backgrounds, to be interested in some of the very same issues. And I would say that, with all due lack of modesty, that George Mitchell and Warren Rudman made those hearings come out the way they did. I mean, we had the background that others did not have.

BW: Did you advocate for being on that committee, or not?

WR: I didn’t ask. I got a call from Bob Dole who said, “You’re going to be the Republican on the committee, and you’re going to be the top Republican. I’m jumping you over a lot of other people because you’ve got great experience.”

BW: I know you went into that in your book Combat quite a bit, but I think probably both Dole and Senator Byrd deliberately put, as you put it, flame-throwers on that committee?

WR: I think they put people in who they thought were very competent, had good backgrounds and were thoughtful; neither one of them saw it as a political committee, and it wasn’t.

BW: And how closely did you and George Mitchell work together on that committee?

WR: Oh, very closely, every day. George Mitchell and I discussed witnesses’ testimony or staff virtually on a daily basis.

BW: And were there areas in which you and he had to negotiate to come to common ground?

WR: Well I’m sure there were. I don’t recall specifically what they were, but I do know that we were always able to work things out together because we had mutual respect for each other, and we shared a lot of common thoughts and common philosophies.

BW: Now, one thing that you always read about in terms of those hearings was George Mitchell taking on Oliver North.

WR: So did I.

BW: That’s right, and I noted that you quoted yourself in Combat, but you didn’t make reference to George Mitchell’s speech, and I was just wondering why.

WR: Only time limitation, space limitation. George did a wonderful job, his experience as both a federal judge and a U.S. attorney came through loud and clear, it was obvious that he knew exactly where he was going. George Mitchell had a rare talent. George could look down the road and see the problems that would arise in any legislative initiative or hearing, and strategize as to how to get from point A to point Z, where he was trying to get. He had great talents in that area. In addition, personality wise, George Mitchell is a very tough guy. George is a tough human being, he is one that really sticks to what he believes. He had a marvelous way about him, and George Mitchell is one of those people who appears to be very soft spoken, very thoughtful, not in the least bit aggressive, but he is aggressive, he is tough, and I think one of the things that made him such a great majority leader is his ability to work with people, to get where he wanted to go without being disagreeable.

BW: Finishing up with Iran-Contra, were you satisfied with the outcomes?

WR: I was satisfied with the majority [ ] report, which I joined. I thought the minority report was a piece of trash, and I joined the majority report, as did several other Republicans.

BW: Did you pay a price for that at all within the Republican hierarchy?

WR: I didn’t think I did; didn’t affect my career in the Senate at all.

BW: And did Bob Dole congratulate you on your role?

WR: Oh, he thought I did an excellent job. Bob was satisfied with what we did, because Bob Dole wanted the truth, and we found out the truth.

BW: Let’s talk about George Mitchell a little bit more as the leader. Did you see him prior to ‘88 when he was elected by the caucus as a real comer in the Democratic Party?

WR: No question in my mind that George Mitchell would have been elected leader of the Democratic majority, there was just nobody who came close. Intellectually superb, thoughtful, I’ve already discussed that; his manner of working with people, extraordinary. He also had a great sense of humor. And George was well liked. He would drive the Republicans crazy because it put them in a corner that they never expected to be in, but nobody that I know of had a deep dislike for George Mitchell. They may not have liked some of the things he was doing, but nobody disliked him.

BW: He ran against Senator Inouye and Senator Bennett Johnston for the leadership. When that happens, does the other party just say, well that’s their business, no investment, obviously, not anything, a role, but do you recall the Republicans saying, well we hope George Mitchell wins that, or not?

WR: No, I don’t think so. I think maybe the contrary; maybe some people thought if Mitchell’s elected majority leader, we’ve got a fight on our hands, because everybody recognized his litigative ability, his intellect, the power of his personality. George Mitchell is an extraordinary human being, one of the most extraordinary that I have met in public life.

BW: He was elected, the Republican Caucus met some time afterwards. Did you get a sense that Bob Dole was preparing the Republican Caucus for dealing with George Mitchell and saying, ‘here’s what we got to do now with this guy?’

WR: Well, I think Dole made it very clear that we were dealing with a very, very competent, skilled leader, and that we all had to keep that uppermost in our minds.

BW: Looking at that time from the current perspective, did you get a sense that some Republicans felt like they had to undermine George Mitchell?

WR: Well sure, but that’s normal. We weren’t very successful at it.

BW: Why not?

WR: Because he was always one step ahead of everyone. George had this amazing ability to see around corners. It’s like a good chess player, George was always thinking three moves ahead, and that is a skill that is rare amongst legislative leaders. But in my view, those who have that ability are the great leaders. Howard Baker had that ability. They were very similar in how they led.

BW: That’s interesting. And how did Dole respond to this challenge?

WR: Oh, Dole got along very well with Mitchell, he liked Mitchell, they fought like hell over things but they had huge respect for one another.

BW: Did you see any minuses in George Mitchell? You’ve talked about his pluses as leader, were there any things that you thought, ‘oh, he could have been better at doing such-and-such?’

WR: No, no, I thought George Mitchell was a superb leader who, I can’t look back on those years and say to myself, ‘he screwed up, he should have done this this way or that way.’ George was not an impulsive guy, he thought about things, thinks about things; would have been a great Supreme Court justice, which I guess he turned down, would have been a great secretary of state. Had he not been from a small state, I always thought that George Mitchell would have been a great president of the United States. He has those skills.

BW: I was going to ask you that much later in this interview, because you had said that Bob Dole would make a very good president.

WR: I thought Bob would have been a good president, I think Howard Baker would have been a good president. There aren’t too many people I’d put in that category, but George, top of my list.

BW: Do you recall any vivid moments during his leadership that really stuck out as being extra special, or particularly wise or strategic?

WR: Well, I don’t necessarily remember anything that I can put that specific. What I do remember is, we had some terrific confrontations, where people were losing their tempers and the rhetoric was red hot. But Mitchell was able to hold it all together, never lost it, never allowed himself to be drawn into that kind of conduct. I remember that clearly from a number of things that happened. What the subjects were specifically, that’s very hard for me to recall, going that many years back.

BW: What about any particular joint activities between you and him?

WR: Well, the thing that we worked on together was to develop the road map for peace for the Middle East, on the Sharm el-Sheikh [International Fact-Finding Committee], and we worked very closely, we were the only two Americans on it. And we traveled a great deal together, and it was wonderful to watch George deal with foreign leaders, Israeli leaders, Egyptian leaders, Jordanian leaders, we met with all of them, and George’s extraordinary diplomatic skills were very apparent.

BW: What about during the time in the Senate, did you and he collaborate on many things?

WR: Not really. Leaders generally don’t, they don’t tend to be that active in terms of particular legislation, it’s rare. He was involved, but we were not involved together in any legislative initiatives.

BW: You’re saying that as majority leader, there were other things that he was doing.

WR: Right. His job was to organize the Democratic majority either for or against what was going on on the floor, either sponsored by the Republicans or the Democrats. A lot of people think George Mitchell was extraordinarily partisan. I’ve never had that view. He is a partisan, but he was a rational, reasonable partisan. He’s someone that you could deal with. I know Bob Dole feels that way, and I know that some of my more moderate colleagues feel that way.

BW: Was there such a thing as a New England caucus?

WR: Not really, not really.

BW: Did you all ever get together and sort of -?

WR: Not really. Well, we might on rare occasion: Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Bill Cohen and Mitchell, Gordon Humphrey, myself.

BW: But nothing on an organized ongoing basis.

WR: No, no, because we had a few issues that we all deeply cared about, and we’d tend to work together on those issues, but not a lot.

BW: What were some of those issues?

WR: Well, making sure that the people of New England got their fair share in low income heating assistance, that was a big, big issue for all of us and we did work together on that.

BW: What about the acid rain?

WR: A lot of us worked on that as well.

BW: Did you and George Mitchell see pretty much eye-to-eye on that one?

WR: We did, I tend to be an environmentalist at heart, I thought acid rain was a terrible issue, and in some places it still is.

BW: Now, I guess NAFTA came up after you left the Senate, is that right, or am I wrong about that?

WR: After I left the Senate.

BW: Afterwards, okay. So what about jobs in New England, was that something you and he worked on together, or not?

WR: When we could. We would both support an initiative to a particular company that wanted to locate in Maine or in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, because that helped the whole region.

BW: Did you in New Hampshire have some base closing issues?

WR: We were the first one. And I supported it. Well, it’s really in Maine, but it’s called the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Naval Base [sic: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard], first base that closed, number one. And I supported it, because I knew that if we supported it, we would get a lot of support from the government to make it work, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s located in Kittery, Maine, so Bill and George had an interest as well as the two New Hampshire senators.

BW: And you all stood together on that.

WR: We did.

BW: And that was hard, wasn’t it, because that was a tough issue.

WR: It was a very tough issue.

BW: Still is.

WR: But it’s turned out well.

BW: What about Gramm-Rudman?

WR: Well, George and I fought like cats and dogs on that, and I won. The Democratic majority, at the beginning at least, didn’t like it. I don’t know how George finally voted on that, but it was passed by the Senate overwhelmingly. Now, how could you vote against it? It was saving money, we structured that in a clever way, and George and I had a lot of laughs about Gramm-Rudman long after it was over. But they were trying to kill it, and they couldn’t. Tip O’Neill voted for it, Ted Kennedy voted for it. I’m pretty sure George voted for it.

BW: I’m embarrassed; I don’t know what his vote was on that issue. I think you said in the book that you felt that Gramm-Rudman would succeed if it failed, or something along those lines, is that right?

WR: I said it was a bad idea whose time had come, that’s what I said. And I said that it was only when it failed that people would recognize that the problem needed to be solved. This was not the perfect solution, but it was a solution.

BW: Did Mitchell have any input while you worked in the Ethics Committee on the Keating Five, did he have anything to say?

WR: None at all.

BW: Completely hands off.

WR: Absolutely. He believed the Ethics Committee should function as a truly nonpartisan body, and he never once spoke to me about that, other than to say, ‘how are you all doing, how much longer are these hearings going to last,’ that sort of thing, but nothing substantive.

BW: And in terms of outcomes, how did you feel with that?

WR: I thought it was a great outcome. The people who probably were culpable didn’t run for reelection, and that would have been Cranston, DeConcini, and Riegle, and the two that were the least culpable or not culpable at all were Glenn and McCain, and they went off and were reelected.

BW: Do you have any recollection of the visit that you and Mr. Souter made to George Mitchell’s office when Souter was doing the rounds?

WR: Oh, I do, I have a clear recollection, because I introduced David to virtually everyone personally, and then left, I didn’t want to sit with George Mitchell asking David Souter questions with me as an observer. I didn’t want to do that, so I would make appointments and then David would do them, and I would introduce him and I’d go back to my office; when he was done he’d come back and we’d go on to the next one. And as I recall, and of course George knew who Souter was, he followed the law in New England, and I remember taking him to George’s office, having a very warm welcome, chatted for a few minutes and left. But I know that George Mitchell thought that David Souter was a first-rate Supreme Court justice.

BW: What about recollections of the Clarence Thomas?

WR: None. I was not on the committee, and really don’t have any.

BW: Looking over your career, you’ve spent so much time in intelligence and security issues, both in the Senate and beyond, do you have any measure on George Mitchell’s sensitivity to that realm of things?

WR: Oh, very sensitive to it. In fact, that’s one of the issues that I told him that we had to get a hold of early on, with Sharm el-Sheikh, and we did. I insisted that we get top level, even if they couldn’t give it to our foreign counterparts on the commission, I wanted the CIA, NSA to make sure that George Mitchell and I, before we went in a meeting, knew what the hell was going on, and we did. And George looked to me a lot because that’s an area I know a lot about.

BW: During your Senate years, was he very active in intelligence or security, or military issues, or not, do you recall?

WR: Only if they had a direct relation to the state of Maine. Mitchell spent a huge amount of time as leader, and once you’re in that position you don’t get a chance to get involved in any of those issues. I mean, it’s rare. You’re trying to run a place that’s run so-called by the inmates, that’s hard to do.

BW: You got tired of being with the inmates.

WR: Yes, I had always, I never said this publicly, but down deep I wanted to serve two terms. I remember George was shocked when I announced I wasn’t running. I wasn’t even opposed for reelection; Democrats said: no, we’re not going to run against him, it would be a waste of money. I got seventy-some odd percent of the Democratic vote. But I thought - And it’s interesting, I think George came to the same conclusion when he left early. He had a new wife, young children, and George did not come from a great deal of money. And I think what I did had some influence on him. I know it had influence on Sam Nunn. I left at the very top of my game, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the time to leave.

BW: So you were surprised when George Mitchell declared that he was going to -

WR: I was not.

BW: Had you had any discussions with him about this?

WR: We had not.

BW: But you said this -

WR: Only about my stepping down early and why, not about his stepping down early.

BW: But you were not surprised.

WR: Not at all.

BW: During the period of time from when you left the Senate and Sharm el-Sheikh, did you have contact with George Mitchell at all?

WR: Oh yes, we would talk occasionally. I would call him to tell him what I thought about something that was going on, he might call me occasionally. Occasionally there’d be lunches for former senators up there, and George would always go and I would always go. I like George Mitchell, I’m very fond of him personally, he’s just a wonderful human being.

BW: And in what ways did you get in touch with that sort of ‘wonderful human being’ part?

WR: Well, I’d give him a call, and if I was going to be up in the Senate I’d pop my head in his office to see if he was free, and on the floor, which I had the privileges of course to see him, but I tried to stay in touch. I’ve been less in touch with him since he left the law firm and he’s gone full time on this Middle East encounter. But other than that, we generally stayed in touch with each other, and been good friends.

BW: Did you ever socialize with him?

WR: Didn’t socialize with almost anybody. The Senate’s a very strange place, very different from the way it was in the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s. People didn’t go to each other’s homes for dinner, or didn’t go out to restaurants with their spouse for dinner. There wasn’t a lot of socialization going on, with anyone.

BW: When the Senate wasn’t in session in the evenings, what were you doing?

WR: I’d go home.

BW: Home New Hampshire, home D.C.?

WR: Home here. When the Senate wasn’t in session for extended period of times, I’d go to New Hampshire.

BW: Now, I’m told by George Mitchell’s staff that virtually every weekend he went home.

WR: Oh yes.

BW: But you didn’t.

WR: I didn’t go home every weekend, but I went home a lot of weekends.

BW: So let’s talk about Sharm el-Sheikh for a bit. How did you get involved?

WR: I was in the unique position of being the only person ever named to chair the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board by a president of the opposite party. And Bill Clinton named me chairman of the PFIAB, and I did a pretty good job at it. And we had some major problems which I helped Clinton solve, which I can’t talk about.

When Sharm el-Sheikh came up, I got a call from the chief of staff at the White House who asked, would I be willing to serve with George Mitchell on this international group the president was putting together that George would chair. I said I would be delighted. And then George called me, and then we got together shortly thereafter and, as they say, the rest is history.

BW: What was the nature of your involvement in that process?

WR: Well, I was involved in most of the trips that we took, all the meetings that we conducted, the assembling of the staff, which is how you got to Brendan Melley, the writing of the report, the release of that report, and working closely to help George Mitchell, who was the chair, to make sure it came out the way he wanted it to come out. And we had the former prime minister of Norway, former president of Turkey, and the gentleman who was foreign secretary for the European Union for years [Javier Solana]. But anyway, and it was a good group.

BW: Did you make one – it’s my impression that the principles made two trips to the region, is that correct? And you were on both of them.

WR: No, I was ill for the second one, so I was unable to make the second one.

BW: I’ve heard a lot about the first one, it was a pretty hectic -

WR: It was hectic as hell. The thing I will never forget is being driven in SUVs from Tel Aviv down to Gaza, across the Gaza Strip, and then picked up by Palestinian PLO security, and being driven to Yasser Arafat’s home on the Mediterranean and sitting at a huge table with thirty or forty Palestinian leaders and interpreters, sitting next to George Mitchell for two-and-a-half hours and carrying on a dialogue about where we thought this ought to go, and then having dinner with Yasser Arafat, and then intelligence came in from the Israelis, we had an Israeli guy with us, that there was an ambush up the way we came, waiting for us, so we went a different way to get back to Ben Gurion [International] Airport, got on the airplane and flew to Cairo. Oh yeah, I remember that trip.

BW: Scary.

WR: Oh yes, but what the hell, you know?

BW: So when you all came back from that trip, did you have a pretty clear idea of where the report was going?

WR: I did. I’m not sure if George did, but I thought I knew where it was going. And they went back again, nothing really changed. It is really a shame that both sides of that dispute didn’t really look at that report and say, ‘this is the best we’re going to get,’ and do it, because it could have led to a far different situation than we’re dealing with over there now. George did a wonderful job of leading the Sharm el-Sheikh Commission, and I think everybody knew that.

BW: Did you see any evidence of a buy-in to that report by the Bush administration?

WR: Not at all.

BW: If they had, might things have turned out differently?

WR: They might have. I mean, probably it’s too harsh to say not at all. Yes, Condi [Condoleezza Rice] asked me to come over and brief her on it, and probably George as well. Sandy Berger, who I now work with, talked to Bush about it at length, talked to several of his secretaries of state. I can’t say that they didn’t buy into it at all, but they had some problems, and they weren’t tough enough, as far as I was concerned. But I could say so far the same about the Obama administration. They ought to be outraged about what the Israelis did a couple days ago, that was uncalled for, it was uncalled for.

BW: You’re referring to the attack on the -

WR: On the flotilla.

BW: The flotilla, right. Did you and George Mitchell ever discuss the report or the experience afterwards?

WR: Oh yes, oh sure.

BW: What was your sort of summation?

WR: Oh, that we had done a pretty good job considering the hand that was dealt to us. That we were really surprised at the cooperation we got from the other three, particularly the elderly former president of Turkey, whose name escapes me [Suleyman Demirel]. Solana was the guy from the European Union. And the fellow from Norway was Central Typecasting, the prime minister of Norway; tall, handsome, brownish-gray hair, very Nordic looking, very soft spoken, great fellow. I forget his name [Thorbjoern Jagland], but he was wonderful.

BW: I’m sorry, I don’t have those names with me.

WR: Oh, I’m sure you’ll have them.

BW: And characterize how you, at the top level, how you interacted and worked together.

WR: George would always talk to me before a major meeting and tell me what he thought he was going to try to get to, and what did I think about it. We would talk about that, and then we would go ahead into the meeting. Now, he might have had that conversation with other members of the Commission as well, in fact he probably did, but without fail, he had it with me.

BW: Were you having one-on-ones with the other members of the Commission, or really just with George?

WR: Some, but not like with George.

BW: Did you ever go to the Meridian House when the report was being prepared?

WR: I did, I went there and did the event with George at Meridian House when we essentially addressed that huge audience of mainly I assume Foreign Service people, we did that together.

BW: And this was on the occasion of the -

WR: Of the report being issued. We did it in New York, I think at the Waldorf, and then we came back and a few days later did a huge presentation at Meridian House.

BW: What was the feeling on both occasions at the end of that meeting? Was there a lot of optimism in the room?

WR: There was optimism, I mean the media is always skeptical, I didn’t pay much attention to that, but certainly in terms of the Meridian House presentation, and a few others we did here, it was very well received.

BW: And were there representatives from the Middle East present at those meetings, too, or not?

WR: Not at the one in New York, possibly at the one here.

BW: That’s the first time I’ve heard about those, or at least the meeting down here. Any contacts with George Mitchell since Sharm el-Sheikh?

WR: Oh yes, we do talk occasionally. Not a lot, because of how busy he is. And of course he’s no longer with the law firm so he’s harder to reach.

BW: And when you do chat, is it about baseball, or more important things?

WR: It’s about what’s going on in the Congress and what’s going on in the country. And I was pretty ill last year, and George was concerned with that, and he was ill the year before and I was concerned about that. He had prostate cancer, I have lymphoma, which is in remission right now – hopefully it’ll stay there. But, oh yes, we are first and foremost good friends.

BW: Do you say that about a lot of your colleagues from the Senate?

WR: No, I don’t, no I don’t. I say that about maybe three or four.

BW: A few summary questions. Over your period of time in the Senate, how did it change? Or did it?

WR: The major change in the Senate came when more and more House members were elected to the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, and brought with them the confrontational attitude that exists in the House. Very different from the Senate, and it’s making the Senate much more like the House. That’s the big difference.

BW: Why is it that the House is that way?

WR: Well, it was designed to be that way: they get reelected every two years, they represent very small districts, they quite often are focused on very narrow issues, and there’s never been a great history of partisanship, going way back, in the House. There always has been in the Senate, but no longer.

BW: Is there such a thing as a leadership legacy, do you see that in terms of maybe there still being an influence there from a George Mitchell or a Howard Baker or Bob Dole, or not?

WR: I don’t see it lately. Maybe it’ll come back, but I’m not sure even Mitchell or Dole or Baker could change the situation as it exists right now. A lot of other things have to change first.

BW: Would you be tempted, going back to where you were in 1980, would you be tempted to run for the Senate today?

WR: No, I would not. I was - History is my hobby, I could teach history from a lot of years, I’m certainly an historian of the United States Senate, I’ve read probably every biography and autobiography ever written on the Senate before I ever got there – not a place that I would go to today. Definitely a place I aspired to in 1980.

BW: So you did a lot of preparation before you ran for the Senate, really.

WR: I sure did. It was no impulse; there weren’t thousands of people out in the streets begging me to run.

BW: When did the light bulb go off in your head, ‘this is where I want to head?’ I mean as a youngster, or -?

WR: Probably while I was attorney general, and when I came down here and testified before the Senate Rules Committee about that amazing contested election in New Hampshire that was decided by one or two votes, the Wyman-Durkin race, I came down with David Souter who was my deputy, and we testified before the Rules Committee. And as we were leaving and going back to New Hampshire, I turned around and I said, “David, I could do that, I could do that better than most of them are doing that.” And he agreed.

BW: Do you think he ever had aspirations along those lines?

WR: David? Absolutely not, no-no, no, David was a judge, he loved his twenty years on the Supreme Court, and I knew when the twenty years came he would leave. I knew it. Nobody else knew it. I knew it.

BW: He had a pact with himself for twenty, and you had for two terms.

WR: And I had to talk to him, and I knew David – twenty years was enough.

BW: As history looks back on George Mitchell, how do you think he ought to be remembered?

WR: He’ll be remembered in a variety of ways. He’ll be remembered as a truly great leader of the majority in the United States Senate, he will be remembered as someone who his colleagues had deep respect for, and he will be remembered for this enormous public service he has performed for the country, for presidents, both in Ireland and in the Middle East, no matter how the Middle East turns out. George Mitchell will be remembered for making a superhuman effort and making a great personal financial sacrifice to serve the country, there’s no question about that. He will be considered one of the truly outstanding public figures of the late twentieth century and the early twenty-first, no question.

BW: Any final thoughts?

WR: None at all, you’ve covered it all.

BW: Good, thank you very much.

End of Interview

 
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Interview with Warren Rudman by Brien Williams

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