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. Dawn in Pa

    I agree that there is just too much violent talk on these blogs, you may hate the former Presidents or the sitting Presidents, that is your rights, but when the name calliing starts up, it is like trying to be the biggest bully on the Playground intimidating the smaller person.

    hearing what people are saying right or left... it is totally pathetic...

    You have the right to express your opinions, but when you cut speak about cutting someone's wife head off, think of Daniel Pearl...

    People yell about being in a Socialist Country, but you ignore that we were actually close to a Police State after 911....

    Now CNN please Post this, it is really getting out of hand....

    June 12, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Bill

    To: Jon in CA
    Did it happen to your Mother, Sister and Wife?

    June 12, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Washington State

    Great... Its nice to see our tax dollars hard at work. Makes me wonder who paid for the air ride and services from the military who helped?

    June 12, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Joe in CA

    What a waste of taxpayer's money to have this OLD man jump out of a plane with the Army's Knights. Kinda gives you flash backs of "Mission Accomplished" when we flew another dumb ass BUSH for free for no apparent reason. Too bad the parachutes worked for all three.

    June 12, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Steve

    I too am 41-year old Democrat and think that this jump and vigor at his age has nothing to do with politics.

    Take your partisan hats off and wish this guy a well-deserved Happy Birthday.

    We all should be so lucky and healthy to be able to do that.

    (Oh, and I did vote for him since in 1988 he was clearly the better choice for President!)

    June 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. james johnson

    I miss the days when Republicans are in office. Since Stepin Fetchit was made president, we now have 5 states allowing sexual deviants to marry, a racist hispanic nominated for Supreme Court, pis-ant countries like North Korea and Cuba openly defying us, and the Joker is Speaker of the house.

    God bless all of the Bush's.

    June 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Jennifer Wills

    I didn't vote for him or his son and I am a lifelong Dem but i think this is great!

    June 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. V

    I'm not a big Bush fan, but I still got love for him. Daps to him and a Happy Birthday! And to be honest, although I loathed the Iraq War, I now am glad beyond belief that his son started it. I believe that thru the tragedy, we will end up with an inevitably better world. Let democracy reign, baby! And I agree, the nasty comments are just unnecessary. It is the man's birthday! Come on now!

    June 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Dawn in Pa

    By the way after I went on a ranting spree, Happy 85th Birthday Mr. President and have fun on your birthday, and I am a democrat... Not a nasty word from me on you miles stone,

    June 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Ani

    Politics aside, I think skydiving at 85 is tres-cool! Good for him!

    June 12, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. gunner

    Betcha Barry wouldn't have the cahunas to jump out of an airplane. Viva Bush family!!

    June 12, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Joe D - strong Connecticut democrat

    as a strong and lifetime B.O supporter, i wish 41 a HAPPY B'DAY ! live longer and make more of these jumps.i'm 41yrs and will never jump from 20 ft. i know this will anger many of my fellow democrats, but i still like W as a person, he surrounded himself with creatures like Chenney who had so much influence on him. thanks for the few good things you did 43, and thanks for the respect you are showing 44.
    41 enjoy today and all the best to you and your wife.

    June 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Liz

    He jumped?? – looks like he was "carried" by a member of the U.S. Army parachute team – how about he tries it solo?

    June 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Marc in Virginia

    A lot of internet tough guys on here who wouldn't have the balls to jump out of a plane but they talk plenty of smack online. President Bush, thanks for your service to this country. Here's to your jump in 5 years.

    June 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Tanya

    Tandem is easy and nothing to sneeze about. Once again the Bush's wasting of our taxdollars.

    June 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. knm

    didi – Have you ever heard of proof reading your own work? That is pathetic. And yes, I am interested in a 85 year old man that has the energy and health to jump out of an airplane. It is refreshing to hear some good and fun that is going on in the world. I for one get tired of hearing all the gloom and doom.

    June 12, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Troop

    See the same liberal haters in every CNN comment section. You guys got that HATE SPEECH covered. By the way elder Bush was a WWII pilot who was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire and parachuted into the Pacific. Be nice and respectful of our Presidents and the glory of American veterans.

    June 12, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. John

    NO, No, No, CNN is not Pro Obama, it the Clinton News Network!

    June 12, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. devo

    Way to go GW! Hope you get to do it again at 90!

    Hopefully you will never see the despicable and tasteless comments below written by the low lifes that put the current administration and consequent debacle in motion. How is your job security these days anyway??

    June 12, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. JayG

    DIDI: you talk about Palin sounding like a drunkard and saying stupid things, lets review the comment from you??? Who's the drunkard now??? Dont make fun of how somebody speaks when you cant speak yourself

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. JonDie

    Not news.

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. frs

    Geeez – you people are so negative and sour about everything. Get a life folks.

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Bill Hewett

    This is not news at all. Just another prank by a REPUBLICAN trying to clear his past. I don't hear and right-wingers asking who paid for the event and the cost of it. This family has lived off the taxpayers all of their lives and they believe that the taxpayers are their slaves.

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Angie

    Wonderful.......hope I have this much energy and stamina when (and if) I'm 85!!! What a humble, admirable man!

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. rob

    who cares about this creep bush or that whole family they destroyed the economy with cheney the son and all those repuplican creeps

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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