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. malclave

    Nice to see the liberals here are still embracing their hatred. Of course, it's all they have in their lives.

    June 12, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. tiff of lithia springs

    Way to go Daddy Bush. Don't like your politics but love your livin' life attitude.

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

    in Miami June 12th, 2009 4:03 pm ET
    Yes, JayG, there were terrorists AFTER we invaded. They were not there BEFORE we invaded…why can't you just acknowledge THAT??
    Can you acknowledge that your fellow Dems approved the war in Iraq, and that Sadam was sponsoring terrorist that were blowing themselves up in Israel. That they attempted an assignation of president Bush. That there were terrorist cells “before” we got there. That Sadam did break the UN requirements. That he did kill millions of civilians including gassing the Kurds.
    Finally that Iraq and the world is a safer place with that guy gone!

    June 12, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. JayG

    I do acknowledge that Alqaeda might not have been there before we went into Iraq, but there was after. what difference does it make if they were there before or after??? We were still fighting them?? What would be your choice of action?? Sit back and do nothing until another attack? ERIN, while we were fighting iraqi insurgents, we were also fighting Al Qaeda as much as you dont want to acknowledge that. At Least Bush has balls to stand up to terrorists, If Obama were president at the time, I think I recall him saying it was a no win situation and our troops could not win. If Obama were President when Iraq was going bad he said he would have pulled all troops out immediatly. Quite a decision maker he's gona be, we would have left Iraq to the terrorists and in utter chaos, thanks to the troop surge, you cant even find a story about it in the papers anymore.

    June 12, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. kaye

    To Jon in CA
    You are a disgusting despicable person to make such a statement. It is sick to know that people like you wish for women "to be raped and their heads sawed off"?????? Just despicable. Shame on you and pity for any women in your life.

    Shame on CNN for allowing such comments to make it on the board, what is the point of screening if hateful disgusting speech like that makes it on this forum. This is what is wrong with America; you do not understand the difference between free speech which accompanies responsibility and hate speech which is always allowed under the guise of free speech. Jon in CA is a hateful sexist less of a human (probably a James Von Brunn sympathizer) but shame on you CNN for giving him a platform.

    And about this piece of "news" who give a crap. This is not news; he is a private citizen let him live in privacy and let us read about real news.

    June 12, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Wisconsin Ann

    I agree with Tiff of Lithia Springs: not a fan of Bush politics, but love seeing stories like this.

    June 12, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Travis In Colorado

    Way to go Mr. President! You truly are an inspiration to us all! You have great leadership skills, too bad our current president doesn't have the same skills, values, or strenghts that you do. You got a raw deal during your re-election and we were left with the real wimp, Clinton! And now we have another wimp in office, Mr. Welfare check and apologize. God in Heaven help us if this country is ever attacked again. Obama will probably ask our attackers if there's anything he can do for them.

    Happy birthday President Bush. I hope that you live a long, healthy, and happy life and that we get to see you jump on your 90th birthday as well.

    June 12, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. JayG

    DONTREADONME – you are right on point! KUDOS. How come this is just Bushes war when the democrats also approved the war under the same intelligence that Bush was given? DAVE- The way you paint a picture about Saddam you seem like a supporter of his! GEEZ you should right a pleasant book about Sadaam and the way he gas'd his own people, you might even get a column in the NY Times!

    June 12, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. kaye


    what do you say to some one who wishes a woman to be raped and her head sawed off because some one related to her disagrees with him...........come on what do you have to say to Jon in CA???????

    June 12, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    Jon in CA June 12th, 2009 3:40 pm ET

    David S Robins said,
    "Too bad the parachute opened."
    Hey David – I hope your wife gets r@ped by islamic jihadists and then her head sawed off.
    Have a great weekend!
    Your comment is just as disrespectful as David's! His wife said nothing Stupid!! CNN, you can and have to do better than this!

    June 12, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. Steve (the real one)

    Chris D. June 12th, 2009 3:36 pm ET
    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
    Save your whining for those who are rich, liberal lawmakers: Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Dodd, Kennedy, the current President, etc. They are all rich, not living in a recession but are darn well making sure YOU do!

    June 12, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Ms. Dee, Texas

    After 4 years of the Senior and 8 years of the Junior it's no wonder America is practically on Life Support!

    He helped to ensure that he and his cronies got "golden parachutes"!

    June 12, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. dimes1

    It amazes me how many truly stupid and mean people embarrass themselves on this forum.

    I read comments here on Sara Palin, Al Qaeda, War crimes, etc. This is about senior Bush celebrating his 85th birthday.

    I bet most of you were pishing in dippers when he was President. He is not George W Bush! He is a veteran, the youngest pilot in WWII and has a lifetime of service to this country and works well with Bill Clinton on humanitarian issues. Instead of wishing he dies, set aside your nastiness and congratulate an 85 year old man who served his country.

    June 12, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. kaye

    JayG.....you mean the gas that was supplied by the US? or the millions of dollars that US (with rumsfeld and Chenney in power at that time) that was give to saddam to oppress his own people, kill tha shiites and wage war against the curds and Iran> is that what you mean?

    June 12, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Foreveryoung

    I am a big Obama fan and liberal Democrat. I must say I have a great deal of respect and admire greatly the Elder President Bush and it does warm my heart to see him at 85 stil being able to do this. The sad part I don't think I would ever be able to say the same about his son "W".

    June 12, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Jasmine in Germany

    I think it is wonderful that GHW Bush is still so active and fit. He has served our country well for his entire adulthood and we should be grateful to him. Happy birthday!

    June 12, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |

    A rich, old, wanna-be-from the south white man who is still a RepubliCANT!

    Y A W N. . . . . .

    June 12, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. David in Dallas

    I am a life-long Democrat, but I have a great deal of admiration for President Bush-41. He served our country well in World War II and as President he presided over the successful first Gulf War in which Saddam Hussein was ousted from Kuwait. Instead of criticizing him, I would think people would be wishing him a happy 85th birthday. I think he is an inspriation to elder Americans and I am grateful for the charitable work that he and President Clinton have done together since they left office.

    June 12, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. thetruthisoutthere

    how about an extra dive to celebrate his son is no longer president?

    June 12, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. Tom Paine

    @Southern "Hottie" (Doubtful) –

    Why are liberals so fixated on other people's race and wealth? You don't have to like President GHW Bush, but keep your race and class obsessions to yourself.

    "Wanna be??!?!" Here's a clue – George HW Bush did more before he was 18 than you would ever ever do in 10 lifetimes.

    June 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Dave

    I love how when CNN allows comments on a story all the sheeple come out to support the BS.

    June 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. mike, in california

    The mind is like a parachute, it's of no use unless it's open. A concept lost of the the Bushes and their own party. Besides being a stunt, I feel that George Sr. puts these airmen in unnessesary danger. I noticed that his so called pilot son was on the ground watching, Even George Sr does not trust him.

    June 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    @David S Robins said,
    "Too bad the parachute opened."

    Would you say that about President Obama? Promoting violence against any current or past president is NOT cool.

    Stop the hate comments.

    June 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Chris

    Hey Dan,

    regarding your comment : June 12th, 2009 3:11 pm ET

    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."

    I just wanted to give you a few names to look up: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson...

    June 12, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. JayG

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE! Kaye- I'm sure you would love to talk about dumb things like that but neglect to even comment on the Obama connections to radical people. And millions werent delivered to wage war against his own people, you are sorely misguided. Go watch more or Michael Moore films, next you will say we deserved 9/11. How bout commenting on the billions "W" gave to Africa to single handidly combat the AIDS virus?? Obama will never touch that accomplishment.

    June 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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