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. Anonymous

    Well done Mr. President. I am not American, but I have a great deal of respect and admiration to you as a leader, a family man and a true american.

    Toronto, Canada

    June 12, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. harold

    Skydiving...... for Health Care For Everyone in THE USA...?

    June 12, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. Albie

    Happy Birthday President Bush,, youre an awsome and great Hero of this Great country. God Bless You and God Bless your entire Family. I truly
    believe Bushes has done a lot for this country, Liberals may not agree But Reality of Bushes services can not be Ignored.... Whole Family has served this Great Country... I am from Islamic country and I am not Muslim/ I am Catholic and I truly believe Bushes has done more for Muslims world then any Muslim Leader from muslim country. Senior Bush Liberated Kuwait,,, GW Bush Liberated Iraq and also Liberated Afghanistan....God Bless Bushes.

    June 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. nom deplume, esq.

    I'd like to meet David S. Robins, and perform that retroactive procedure his mother should have had shortly after meeting his dad.

    David, when are your parents gonna get married?

    June 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. To: genevieve

    nice try, this is W's mess we are in, he caused it and more and it will take a long time to fix

    what a nightmare Bush/Cheney were and are

    June 12, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  6. princess

    75% of the people who posted a remark on this page need to Grow Up, this is why the future for young adults is ruined, all this nonsense, back and forth arguments that do not lead to anywhere. Nobody asked for your political status, show at least some respect to our former president, no matter your political party.
    Happy Birthday 41!!!!!!

    June 12, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. MCW

    GHWB is a private citizen so he paid for his jump himself. The only thing taxpayers cover is his Secret Service protection, but all ex-presidents get that benefit.

    BTW, I'm from Houston, too, and I enjoy seeing George and Bar at the ballpark as well...sat in the Diamond boxes once (on someone else's nickel) when George was there and it was pretty cool.

    And to everyone using this story to air their political comments and rantings, please limit them to the story at hand – a human interest story about an 85 year old ex-president jumping out of a plane on his birthday.

    June 12, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Brian

    Wow, I missed this the first time, but Liam actually thinks that this was MORE expensive than flying the President of the United States to New York. You couldn't buy 2 opera tickets for what this jump cost us. Everywhere the president goes he takes 2 Boeing 747s, plus support and cargo aircraft. The estimated cost of the Air Force One photo shoot was $300,000 just for 3 flight hours of just ONE of the two 747s (the F-16s cost a measly $30,000 for 1.8 flight hours). That means the cost of Obama's trip was at least $600,000 just for the two 747s.

    June 12, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. MarineOrdie

    As a man, father, and active part of the military it saddens me about some of the comments i have read on here. I honorably served under G.W. Bush and am currently serving under Obama. With comments that i have read i am in aww... He is an american hero and protected every freedom you have today. Even the freedom to bash him and his family openly on the internet. I am saddened because i am protecting your freedom to sit at home with nothing better to do than show disrespect for our former presidents (by the way: Your tax dollars and mine pay their salaries for the rest of their lives and im glad they do). All you haters on here need to get a life and show some respets. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT

    June 12, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  10. J Smith

    Congrats to President Bush. All politics aside, I think it says a lot that his first jump was from a Navy plane....but he continues to jump Army.

    See you @10.500 in 5!

    June 12, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  11. Nick K.

    41 is something 43 is not. He is a war hero. And he knew when to get out of a situation as in the first gulf war. Also the son went completely insane by choosing to fight a war on two fronts. One of which was completely unwarranted. Heck if had to choose a second front he should have fought in North Korea. But I don't think he had the cojones to do that because he knew the North Koreans with their ICBMs were for real while Iraq was not. He could freely enter Iraq and there was nothing that the Iraqis with their nonexistent WMDs could do about it. The North Koreans with their real weapons could vaporize Seoul, Tokyo and even Hawaii before they themselves went down.

    June 12, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. Cheryl, North Carolina, Democrat

    I am a democrat. I am respectful. This is how I was raised. Both Bushs are out of office and as far as I am concerned, no matter what you think about them, they deserve our respect. Period. History can be debated till you turn blue in the face, but someone with good character and class can do so with honor and integrity. No mud slinging. It only shows you are intellectually inferior to use such small and hateful words. Now...Happy Birthday Mr. President. Congratulations on your jump. I hope to see you jump many more times!

    June 12, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. Morgan

    Happy 85th!! No matter what your political views are it's still pretty amazing when an 85 year old can sky dive! We should all hope to be that way when we're old!

    June 12, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Louis from Overseas

    Good job President Bush Sr. Although I am an Independent, I have always felt respect for you. You served our contry with honor (unlike Reagan, Cheney, et al).

    May you enjoy many more jumps. Happy Birthday Sir.

    Louis from Overseas

    June 12, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. Molly Pollard

    This is fantastic!
    & this is coming from a liberal.
    Hope to see another jump in 5 years.

    June 12, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    lily in texas....

    kudos to you!! thank you for serving our country so honorably

    June 12, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Judy

    All of you Bush bashers need to get a life. You can't even speak a civil word about the former president on his 85th birthday. Give us a couple of years of Obama and his democratic cronies and the Bush years are going to look pretty good. By the way Mr. President, Happy Birthday, and God bless you!

    June 12, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Anonymous


    June 12, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  19. reagan lover

    Mr, Bush Sr. seemed like a lock for a second term until he raised taxes (read my lips...............) I voted for him instead of Clinton (actually Bush Sr. lost that election because of Ross Perot) My only question is "why are we taxpayers paying for Army personnel and equipment to celebrate an ex-president's birhtday? Is Mr. Bush palnning on reimbursing the Army? Actually, we shouldn't be paying for any president's birthday celebrations!

    June 12, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. frank Simmons

    Good for him!

    June 12, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. dan

    I fear for this country. After the past 8 years, there is so much anger and hatred. I am a republican- and I voted for Obama and I'm glad I did. This country needs to heal. 9/11 left horrific scars on all of us- but we shouldn't turn on each other- we all love our country. Having different points of view is a good thing. If we don't like what's going on, then vote. Or, run for office yourself.

    June 12, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  22. jeff

    eh, let him celebrate his bday. no president is perfect, and i'm no fan of the gop. but good for him. and happy bday.

    June 12, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  23. Russ H

    I am not going to say much since he is a veteran, but the republican side of the house sucks, oops, I forgot Pelosi on the other side.

    June 12, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  24. Junkman

    Cngrats on your 85 b-day 41. I would like to say that as an honorable man you have served our country well along with all other presidents.
    For all you others out there wishing the parachutes hadnt opened or are insinuating death or harm to the presidents of past should be prosecuted for making death threats. Remember that we all make mistakes and that some day no matter what you beleive in you will more than likely have to pay for them. I think as a nation we should step back and look at all the great things our previous fathers and presidents have done for us. If we cant look past this unrational thinking on both sides of the fence then we as a country will throw our selves into another civil war. We all have enough on our plates so lets try to enjoy some of these times while we still can.

    June 12, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Breck

    Blog gone bad here ... c'mon folks he wasn't my favorite prez either but with the exception of Nixon, most post-prez's admit their faults and work to repair damage. This one has. And he still has an admirable courage!

    June 12, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
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