June 12th, 2009
02:53 PM ET
5 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. STS

    I doubt I'll be skydiving at 85 but good for you mister president.
    (signed: a liberal democrat)

    June 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. ron

    These comments are just nasty. Blame aside, our country is in deep trouble, we need to work together to try and save this once great nation.

    Please stop, for the good of our children.

    (Rev) Wright –Shut Up!
    Limbaugh and Cheney –Shut Up!
    Crazy people on these threads –SHUT UP!

    BTW - Skydiving kicks some serious butt –try it sometime, maybe it will help you work out some of your fustrations and realize how beautiful this world and life truly is!

    Gravity. Not just a good idea, it's the Law!

    June 12, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Lori

    There is no way you could get me to jump out of a plane.

    June 12, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. MCW

    Isn't there a gatekeeper at CNN to keep disrespectful and disturbing comments, like those made by Jon in CA, out of these comments?

    And, btw, congrats to GHWB on his birthday and parachuting accomplishment...here's to many more!

    June 12, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Virg

    Um...The Elder Bush is not from the South. He's from Connecticut. If you're going to criticize a decent man who served his county in countless ways, you should at least get your facts straight. Although as a southerner, I would be glad to claim him.

    June 12, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Mary the Democrat

    It's great to see that he is still so full of life.

    Good for him.

    June 12, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. didi

    CNN does not have any better things than showing this idiotic thing Bush jumping from sky, who cares this old goose??? no one in the right minded do care....these idiots messed the nation and playing with tax money....when nation is burning with problems...and showing SARA PALIN with no idea what she is talking and talking like a drunkard....just wake up cnn...show some solid stuff than this idiotic stuff....

    June 12, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Pirate

    So, George the 1st jumped out of a plane? Are we sure that he was not *pushed* out? ;)

    Seriously, though... wow... that's an incredibly impressive feat for anyone of that age! I sure hope I'm that spry at 85!

    June 12, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Zero.

    Nobody needs advice from CNN. They are all Pro Obama.

    June 12, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. don't shove your morals in my face

    i'm no conservative, but you have to admire the fact that H.W. is the last president to have served in the military. we may not ever see another one again. spineless presidents = spineless country.

    June 12, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. MCW

    didi – nice grammar...who's the drunkard?

    June 12, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. yer mom

    Good for you, Mr President! My dad is in his 70s and he goes water skiing once a year on his birthday. I hope I'm still able to do cool stuff when I get to be that age.

    June 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Tell it Like it is

    He served our country...I'll give him that...but how about showing up for President Obama's inaugration without a shirt and tie. Very disrespectful. He was wearing a yellow turtle neck. And don't give me excuses about it being cold and him being older. If he can jump out of a plane, he can wear a shirt and tie in winter weather. Hell, there were people there in ties who are older than him.

    June 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. JP

    As a liberal, I'm highly offended by the scary liberals posting comments. Back off, you're making us look bad.

    June 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. truegangsteroflove

    He gets two points for this. It doesn't undo the harm his family has done to this planet over the decades. His father, Prescott Bush, was involved in what some have called Nazi collaboration. Others might call it aggressive investing. Bush himself was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, which conveniently was whitewashed. The first invasion of Iraq was a setup, needlessly prosecuted. Then there is his son. Still, he jumped out of a plane at age 85. Two points, no more.

    June 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. GOPbslapper

    Though I wasn't a huge fan of the elder Bush , (remember the Wimp moniker attached to him). I'm glad to see him enjoying his golden years jumping out of a plane. As opposed to his son Georgie who a lot of us would like to see pushed out of a plane.......sans parachute.

    June 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Robert

    That's awesome. Happy Birthday, George!

    June 12, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Dennis

    Great to see him in such good shape at the age of 85. This guy had one of the most remarkable resumes in the history of Washington DC

    June 12, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. New Englander

    I love the wacky moonbats that watch/visit CNN. There is another party, remember.

    We will all be saying how Obama screwed up our country with his ridiculous spending and fuzzy bear foreign politics with Iran/Taliban/Bin Laden.

    I cannot wait for the day.

    June 12, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Endi

    While I was little when H.W. was the Pres, I have gone back and looked at what he did. And, while I'm more liberal than conservative, I have to admit he was a decent pres. His successor brought on some improvements that were before unseen...Then came the "Air National Guard" W. Eight years, an (at first) illegal war, a massive recession, and "terrorists everywhere" later...Look at the mess that we have created for ourselves. I personally voted for Obama, because it seemed to me that McCain would be the next G.W. Bush, but in the grand scheme of things, only time will tell, and we will have to roll with the punches as they come.

    As for G.H.W. Bush, it's good to see that at 85 he's still able to do what he does, and work with a former enemy in Clinton in good stuff for this country. Good luck in what you do, man. Hopefully you can help band this divided nation together.

    June 12, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. Me

    Congrats on the jump man! Live life at your fullest!

    June 12, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. Al Sefati

    I have no problem with Bushes wanting to jump off and put themselves in danger as long as they don't involve the rest of the nation!

    June 12, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. peeper

    i hate both Bush's with a passion.

    June 12, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. JoeCT

    Yeah, please stop showing this meaningless stuff and put up more pictures of the little Obama angels shopping in Paris, or playing with the puppy.

    June 12, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Zero.

    And Borack Obama is Grounded. "Stuck in the Mud"

    Been there, done nothing. The most "Done Nothing"

    American.

    June 12, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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