June 12th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
6 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. Steve Reeves

    @John

    Um ... the taxpayers DID pay for that. Ex-Presidents get Secret Service protection for life (paid by the taxpayers), and Bush Sr. used the Army Parachute Team to assist his descent (paid by the taxpayers).

    In fact, your whole complaint about the Obama's "date" night won't wash ... literally everything ANY President or ex-President does is paid for by the taxpayers in some way ... at the very least because they will always have taxpayer-supported protection 24/7. When an ex-Presdient flies ... we pay for that and for the flights of the protection team.

    Get over your petty BS. Presidents cost the taxpayer money from the time they are elected to the time they die. That's the fact.

    June 12, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. dontreadonme

    David S. Robins June 12th, 2009 3:25 pm ET

    Too bad the parachute opened.
    -------------------------------
    Too bad your parents didn't practice safe sex. I know I am stooping to your level of ignorance...I get it.

    But if someone posted wishing death on Obama you would all freak out!

    June 12, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Patrick

    Shame on you CNN for posting David S. Robins comment. It's people like him that fuel hate in our country. I bet he sympathized with the guy who shot the security guard at the holocaust museum.

    June 12, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Larry

    Bush Family is Oil Greedy, Warmongers. This Family will go down in History as the Worst Criminals.

    They should be in Jail.

    June 12, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Chris D.

    I'm a liberal and proud of it!!!! Congratulations Mr. Bush, has to be exhilarating.......Must be nice to be rich and not live through a recession.

    June 12, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. dontreadonme

    yuri June 12th, 2009 3:09 pm ET
    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------------------–

    Kind of like the scare tactics used to gain support for the stimulus. Pass it or the country will fail.....yeah right the hypocrisies with you libs is a mile deep.

    Let me guess the threat of terrorism doesn't exist, it is a fear tactic ...911 was perpetrated by the Repubs?

    June 12, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Jeff

    What a stud – and always will be. Nice to see that our country still has brave leadership (although in exile) that supports strong American ideals and doesn't feel the need to apologize for what this great country once represented. Way to go H.W. And looking forward to your 90th birthday jump, as well!

    June 12, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Fear of falling

    He talked about the issue of not getting killed.

    June 12, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Proud Republican

    Way to go, Mr. President!

    June 12, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Vee

    All the Bushes, Osama Bin Laden, Cheney and Congress jump out of an airplane and none of their parachutes open. Who hits the ground first? Punchline.......Who cares?

    June 12, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Bob the Observer

    Some idiots never give up - like those who can change the subject from a parachute jump to a war crimes trial. Why don't you find a bathroom wall to write on?

    June 12, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Happy Birthday H.W.

    While I did not often agree with H.W. Bush's politics and decisions I did and still do have respect for him. This is in stark contrast to his son, President G.W.. H.W. is a veteran who bravely served our fine country in World War II. G.W. was in my view a draft dodger during the Vietnam War. And during the 2000 election campaign when G.W. questioned Kerry's service and the Swiftboat jerks did too, Kerry should have bluntly stated you can question my military action and accomplishments, but at least I WAS THERE PAL !!! Then he should have knocked G.W. on his ass. With this his election victory would have been assured.

    June 12, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. John

    Good for Papa Bush! Much more classy than "bring it on".

    June 12, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. RR

    i hope I'm doing so well when I'm 85.

    Regardless of his politics, this is an inspiration to senior citizens.

    June 12, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Joe

    Wow! Cool.
    Maybe 'W' will start jumping from planes too!
    He better be careful though.
    As much as Iraq looked like Afghanistan, a packed parachute can look an awful lot like an airplane carry-on bag.
    So, if you see a screaming ex-president falling from the sky with his brown socks and tighty-whities floating away above him...well, I'm just sayin'...

    June 12, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Ted

    It seems like some people's mothers never taught them that "If you can't say something nice about someone, why say anything at all?"

    Some of you should be ashamed at yourself. This man led a life committed to public service and served his country honorably in many different ways.

    June 12, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. JayG

    Hey Dan, you and the other hateful liberals are idiots. While there may not have been WMD's in Iraq when we invaded, There was undoubtedly terrorists there afterwards. Why cant people acknowledge that??? Terrorists were killing our troops there, not Bush. Al qaeda was there killing troops, not Bush. Who the hell do you liberals think we were fighting there? While it may have been the wrong reason to goto war there, the terrorists met us in Iraq and were present there. So all you Bush hating liberals are ignorant when you say he killed 4000 troops. Al Qaeda killed 4000 troops, not Bush.

    June 12, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  18. how ugly...some comments

    the country so divided and growing uglier by the day...What happened
    to:
    Obama, the uniter...devided we will fall and on the way there...!!!

    June 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Thebe

    OMG, just look at all the "those were the good 'ole days" and "remember when" posts. Rah, rah. Get your war on!

    June 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Alex -DC

    Now this it the way to live a life.

    June 12, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. Greg in Miami

    Yes, JayG, there were terrorists AFTER we invaded. They were not there BEFORE we invaded...why can't you just acknowledge THAT??

    June 12, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Brandy

    For one thing. I don't think it was a great joke but you know that is what comedians do, they make jokes whether disgusting or not. Some of us do not like them and some think they are hilarious but that is what they are out there to do and it is their job. Dave has been doing this for years and I do not hink it is going to stop now. Give me a break. She needs to grow up and put her big girl panties on. She knew what daughter he was referring to and she tried to put it off like he was a pervert and that is not right. either. If she can't take the heat she needs to leave the kitchen. She is the one that puts her family out their in public view and things are going to happen when your under age child gets pregnant and then turns 18 and puts herself out there for the world to see. She is plastered all over the cover of people.Yeah she is setting a good example, making herself rich over being a teen mom. Good example she is, please. Mrs. Palin just need to stop and let the small stuff go b/c she is going to have a rough road ahead if she takes every joke or comment to heart.

    June 12, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. dontreadonme

    JayG June 12th, 2009 3:52 pm ET
    Hey Dan, you and the other hateful liberals are idiots. While there may not have been WMD's in Iraq when we invaded
    ------------------------------

    Jay you dont have to defend Iraq because it was not a Bush or Republican war. The democrats approved and agreed using the same information Bush had.

    Clinton waged war in Bosnia but was to afraid the rail up the lib anti-war powderpuff wing to go after Osama before he nailed us.

    Even Obama up the ante in Afganistan and has yet to pull out of Iraq.

    War sucks but it is not partisian.

    June 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. Erin

    JayG-It was Iraqi insurgents that have been fighting our troops in Iraq....not Al Queada

    June 12, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Dave

    I never liked Daddy Bush that much when he was president, but after seeing his son, he's not looking as bad, and in his work with Clinton, he's been a good ex-president. I'm glad he had a happy birthday and is still able to sky-dive.

    JayG, jeez, man, you are stupid. The terrorists killing our troops in Iraq weren't there until AFTER we invaded. Saddam saw Islamic terrorists as a threat to his power structure, so he kept them out. When we invaded, we opened the borders and now Iraq had plenty of terrorists, having free run of the place. You can thank your boy Bush for that one.

    June 12, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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