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."
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.
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.
How much did that cost the American taxpayer.
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
Despite what I think about his presidency....great feat jumping at 85! Wonder if it cost the taxpayers anything.....
Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
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..
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.
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.
Army paratroopers? Who's paying for this? hope not the taxpayers.
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.
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
Happy Birthday, PRESIDENT bUSH!!!!!
***Besides the American Indians, we are ALL guests in this country.....the Obama birth certificate is such a tired tune,
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!
Im happy for GHW he is a class act
Bush? Forget him and live with Great President Barack Hussein OBAMA.
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!!!
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!
Happy B-Day to you! Come to my VFW Bar. We maybe "Old", but we are SOIDER!Happy B-Day Mr. President!
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.
How did this article go from jumping out of an airplane to was he a good or bad president?????
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.
There's a Bush I could actually like.
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.
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.