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. Russ H

    Sorry, but I forgot the add that our problems in our country is not terrorists, but the American Government. Again, god bless his age and jumping out of the Airplane.

    June 12, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Karen

    Congratulations on your jump Mr. President. I hope you have a great birthday and how blessed you are to be in good enough health to jump. I admire you and your lovely wife so much. Our country could STILL learn lots from you.
    Happy Birthday!!

    June 12, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Evansville

    How much did that cost the American taxpayer.

    June 12, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Candy Wilson

    Congrats and Happy Birthday! I have always wanted to do this.. So in a way I feel you did it for me! Thanyou!! God Love YA! PS: (I worked Obama's campaign) We CAN Get Along

    June 12, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. Judy

    Despite what I think about his presidency....great feat jumping at 85! Wonder if it cost the taxpayers anything.....

    June 12, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. iliad

    Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

    June 12, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. Jay

    As a nation, why can't we agree to disagree without calling names and getting "personal"? Being on a sideline, we can always pass judgements on both Bushes. I think given the environment, they did the right thing at the right time. I hope Obama does the same and we give him time before jump the gun and pass judgements.

    Being from a third world county, some of you don't realize how great is this nation, its people, resources and most importantly "value" of liberty / freedom.. God Bless USA..

    June 12, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Jerry from Illinois

    Mr. President, Happy 85th BirthdayI Great Jump!

    Congratulations from an Independent 67 year-old Army veteran from Illinois!

    To those who feel the need to criticize, get over it and move on. This is a birthday celebration in 2009.

    June 12, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. Karen

    I hope that Mr. Bush celebrates many more years, makes many more jumps, and never takes time to read the moronic and cowardly statements posted here.

    CNN should use an idiot-litmus test to evaluate the messages before they get posted. Disagreement with or dislike of a person or policy doesn't have to be nasty. And if 99% of those posters had the chance to say those things in person to the people that they slam from their keyboards, they wouldn't take the chance.

    June 12, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. gmiler

    Army paratroopers? Who's paying for this? hope not the taxpayers.

    June 12, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  11. Steve H.

    All politics aside, way to go President Bush. I plan on skydiving for my 50th and hope I can do it again on my 85th.

    June 12, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. Kimberly

    Dont remember much of his presidentcy, I was in high school, Clinton came in my senior year, BUT I do like what he has done since, so I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mr. President....I am so glad to see you are well at your age and still kickin, its inspiring...Yes I am a Dem, but gotta love this man for all the good he and Clinton are doing and have done. Gracious in his retirement, take note cheney

    June 12, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Carole

    Happy Birthday, PRESIDENT bUSH!!!!!

    ***Besides the American Indians, we are ALL guests in this country.....the Obama birth certificate is such a tired tune,

    June 12, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  14. democrat in Wisconsin

    Bush 41 is an honorable man and a vet. I didn't vote for him but believe he always had the country's welfare at heart.

    Happy birthday, sir! May you jump again at least 3 more times!

    June 12, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  15. JayG

    Im happy for GHW he is a class act

    June 12, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  16. http://www.dekorasyon.ws

    Bush? Forget him and live with Great President Barack Hussein OBAMA.

    June 12, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Wetback Jr

    Why is all this noise about? who cares about the Bushes? They both sank this country. Now they are trying to make us forget about their mistakes by trying to accomplish "heroic" deeds. Why didn't they do anything positive before they terms were over? Hope someday they both pay for their crimes!!!

    June 12, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Proud Democrat

    To: Tell it like it is

    Shirt and tie? Are you serious? Of all the things in the world to complain about and you pick shirt and tie? That's awesome!

    June 12, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. Dee, USAF (Ret)

    Happy B-Day to you! Come to my VFW Bar. We maybe "Old", but we are SOIDER!Happy B-Day Mr. President!

    June 12, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  20. DOC

    With everything else thats going on in the world, one would hope CNN would have something of importance to report on instead of the sophomoric behavior of an ex-politician.

    June 12, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. jd

    How did this article go from jumping out of an airplane to was he a good or bad president?????

    June 12, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Jessica

    Why so much hate? This article isn't about hate. Why does hate always get dragged in?

    I am a liberal in my beliefs. But I greatly appreciate what George W. H. Bush, Sr. had to say.

    He did the best he could and as a former president you should support your president.

    Enjoy life. Do fun things, Get out there.

    I'm just so sick of the negativity. There have been and always will be so many wrongs and so many disputes on each side.

    Can't we ever find the common ground and respect eachother for our differences?

    Call me crazy.

    June 12, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. Lori (the real one since some Republican has hijacked my name on this blog)

    There's a Bush I could actually like.

    June 12, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Grannie D

    There is only ONE thing wrong with President Bush jumping from that plane. That is, that I wasn't along for the jump and I'll be 83 on my coming birthday. Wait for me next time,Sir.

    June 12, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. Gary Horowitz

    Happy Birthday Mr. President

    And many more. You are a true American treasure. All the Best to you and your family. You look great – and so does Barbara. Seeing you behind the microphone, reminds me of the good old days when my Republican friends were in charge.

    June 12, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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