June 12th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush makes parachute jump on 85th birthday, talks about issues

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (CNN) - Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 85th birthday Friday by doing what has become his tradition - making a parachute jump - and commenting on national affairs.

"This is great," the elder Bush said after landing near a church in Kennebunkport, Maine, the Bushes' summer home. "I'm glad to be alive and glad my family's all with me."

Bush made the tandem jump from 10,500 feet harnessed to a member of the U.S. Army parachute team. Jumping with him was Robin Meade, an anchor on CNN sister network HLN, also harnessed to a more experienced jumper.

Back on the ground, Bush was flanked by two of his sons - former president George W. Bush, who left office in January, and Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

The elder Bush said he intends to do another jump on his 90th birthday.

He made his first jump as a Navy pilot when his plane was shot down over the Pacific during World War II. He also made two jumps apiece on his 75th and 80th birthdays, and another in November 2007 at the reopening of his library at Texas A&M University.

Earlier in the day, Bush talked to Meade about U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose Senate confirmation hearings start July 13.

Bush, who nominated Sotomayor for a U.S. District Court judgeship for the Southern District of New York in 1992, said she should receive a "fair hearing" as she seeks a seat on the nation's highest court.

Sotomayor is expected to win approval as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and the third woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice. She currently is a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Asked his opinion, Bush said: "I have a feeling she will be confirmed." "I'm going to leave that to others to analyze, but she should be given a fair hearing," he said. "She should be accorded every courtesy that goes with her record as a judge and her aspirations to be a Supreme Court justice."

Sotomayor has been criticized by some conservatives for her remarks on diversity, and a comment made in 2001 and paraphrased on other occasions that she "would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Bush noted that someone had called Sotomayor a "racist." "Well, that's not right. I mean, it's not fair. It doesn't help the process to be out there name-calling. So let them decide whether they want to vote for her or not, and get on with it."

The former president was asked whether, as he becomes older, he is thinking more about his legacy.

"I think my view on legacy is let the historians figure out what I screwed up, and figure out what I got right.

"And I'm confident that, you know, we had a good administration and good people. And I think the same thing is true of our son. And you know, he had tough times and all, but he's doing it right. He's laying back there and he's not criticizing the president. And I'm very proud of him."

"I hope that we both have set examples for how you ought to conduct yourself when you've been president and then go out of office," Bush said. "Let the other guy do it, and support him when you can and be silent. Don't be out there criticizing all the time."

When the 41st president was asked about the nation's most pressing problems, he listed the economy, unemployment and health care.

"I think it will get better. I remain optimistic about our recovery and all of that," he said.

Bush acknowledged that his schedule is far less hectic these days, but he keeps busy with traveling - he plans trips to Germany and China this year - and humanitarian work with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which is part of the University of Texas.

He described his love of skydiving. "Just because you're old, that doesn't mean you can't do fun stuff. And you don't want to sit around drooling in the corner. And so it's a wonderful release.

"And you know, because I was president it sends a message all around. Go out and get something doing. Just 'cause … old guys can still have fun and still do stuff."

Filed under: George H.W. Bush
soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. Michigan Jim

    Good for you, 41! Enjoy your retirement.

    June 12, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Susan

    I am in my 30s and I am afraid of this.... but I do not have US Army assistance as well 😉

    June 12, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Democrat

    Did he jump from his Bin Laden company plane?

    June 12, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. yuri

    Now that's one brave prez. who also is tryin' to infuse a lot of sense into numskulls like RL, and NG, who are drummin' the beats of ultraconservative ideologies that are quite idiotic. Mind you, they are not just their views, but obnoxious scare tactics

    June 12, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |

    Did the American taxpayer's pay for this jump....Hasn't the Bush family spent enough of taxpayer's money on Bush family adventures??

    June 12, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. gngpp

    Why doesn't Dubya get up there with him ? No gonads ? Loser...

    June 12, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Mike

    I watched the press conference – when Dubya joined 41 at the mic, his lower jaw was moving all over the place. Cocaine users call this "hula jaw"

    Do you think Dubya is back to the old habits, or did he ever quit?

    June 12, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. ChicagoJim

    Too bad the Bushies didn't provide the United States with an economic parachute.

    June 12, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Dan

    Mr. George H.W. Bush,

    Please Go Away.

    We don't want to See You. We don't want to Hear You.

    You and your Son George W. Bush have ruined America. Both of you are Warmongers. Put America to Wars.

    Your Son is a Criminal, responsible for the death of 4300 US Troops. He should be in Jail.

    June 12, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. No More Incumbents

    Very nice Prez. Enjoy your retirement.

    June 12, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. ThinkAboutIt

    It's too bad W doesn't have the stones his dad has ... he might have stood up to Cheney and been his own man.

    June 12, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Political Science Major

    CNN is making a mockery of our political institutions. This story has absolutely nothing to do with American Politics. How about the House voting on H.RES.420 or H.R.1709. STOP MISLEADING PEOPLE with "CNN Political Ticker" just change the name of this site to "CNN POLITICAL TABLOIDS" Disgrace!

    June 12, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. skyhawkdriver

    Congratulation on your 85th mr president..hopefully you have many more jumps in your future

    June 12, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Ariana

    Tho I'm not a republican, I think what President Bush did was cute!

    June 12, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. JT

    If it was Obama, everyone would be like....wow what a cool prez....you libs are idiots. and gngpp...he WAS jumping

    June 12, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. John


    In a word, no.

    June 12, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. John


    But I think we did pay for a broadway play recently if that suffices.

    June 12, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. Angie in Pa

    Mike totally agree Good ole George Jr is Right back to his old Habits as well as Bush 41 Good for Him at that age

    June 12, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. MN gal

    While I didn't vote for him nor his son, I still think what he did was very cool. Skydiving is something I just don't have the guts to do. It is a great example of how you can be fit in both mind and body as you age. I'll be looking forward to when George the elder jumps again on his 90th.

    June 12, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Way to go Georgie!! I'm taking the jump next year to celebrate a "landmark" birthday. I'm scared to death, but if Georgie survived it....!

    June 12, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. now 'W', your father was a good pres.

    and he didn't need to trample all over our rights to do it

    June 12, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. Don

    Yu people are sick.

    June 12, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. dontreadonme

    Bush is a war hero and sacrifced way more than Obama ever did for the love of his country!

    June 12, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. Kevin

    God Speed to Bush Family, but when are you going to kick Bin Laden off of the ranch in Crawford?

    June 12, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Kevin

    GHWB, was a pretty decent Pres.

    June 12, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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