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. Cali J

    How will this country ever come together with all the stupid hatred generated on this, and the Palin board? Obama won, so how come the Libs are so full of hate and name calling and such? It appears that soon, this divided country will only be able to settle it's differences the same way it did in the 1800's. Brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor.
    Let's put some facts out here: Both repub and dem leaders voted for the Iraq war. The dems just changed their minds when the political wind blew the other direction. They had the choice because their man wasn't in the white house.
    The war still continues and Afghanistan is being escalated, so Obama also feels the need to be engaged in those areas even after his campaign promises.
    Bush spent too much money, but Obama has spent more money.
    Point being, politicians win when we are divided and hating each other over ideology or partisian politics. We better pull our heads out and see what's really going on. Stop the hate.

    June 12, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Pat

    Hey Chicago Jim, you could actually work hard and not wait to have the gov't give you an "economic parachute". However, it's prbably easier for you to be lazy and piss & moan about it

    June 12, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    who paid for that with all the security and extra safty! give him thumbs up for being outging crazy and having fun thats what life about!

    June 12, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Brian

    Best part was seeing all three bush's together time for for jeb to be president!! God Bless them!!!! All are American heros no matter what you dems say

    June 12, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Joe Jackson

    For his 90th he should jump without a parachute and with W on his back....

    June 12, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. GOPbslapper

    You have to wonder if just for a moment, Bush 41 thought about landing on top of Bush 43 and yelling "Mission Acomplished"!

    June 12, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Dorothy

    Showing the senior Bush once or twice in one day is more than enough – do you have to repeat it all day or show it on all your CNN channels? It gets pretty sickening, and boring as the Bush family is NOT that interesting nor that popular that we want to hear about them ALL day! It looks as though you (CNN) have an obsession with them, though!

    We also had more than enough of GW Bush and his corruption for eight yrs. to want to hear that much about his father!

    June 12, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Mike

    George was the youngest fighter/bomber pilot at the time he graduated from flight training. He cam from priviledge and could have dodged his duty....he did not. He was shot down while attacking a radio and radar installation on Chichi Jima. His crew mates perished. He parachuted into the ocean and was nearly captured. Rescued by a submarine, USS Finback. He went on to complete more combat missions before the war's end.........Captain of Yale baseball team. Millionaire businessman. Congressman. Director of the CIA. Vice President. President. Devoted husband and father who gave much to his country.

    Negative comments demonstrate ignorance.

    June 12, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. GB

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy sheet...what a ride!"

    Yeah! Die trying, not watching...

    June 12, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Randy

    George HW and George W Bush are responsible for:
    1. Initiation wars against Iraq, a timid Country, and deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
    2. Why didn’t the Bushes dare to attack Russia and China, who supply weapons to Al Quida?
    3. Bushes are greedy for Oil.
    4. Death of 4300 US Troops in the unjustified war of Iraq.
    5. Bush family is Worst than Hitler and Saddam.

    June 12, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Ann

    What have we come to as a nation and people when we can not disagee with each other and not be so hateful? I wish the Bushes, The Clintons and the Obamo"s nothing but the best. Too bad so many people have become so bitter and angry when we are blessed with the greatest nation on earth and agree or disagree politaclly all of these people have given much to serve our nation. They all deserve our respect and gratitude.

    June 12, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Frank R. Shaw

    I'm 71 and I hope I live long enough to see George H. W. Bush jump out of an airplane on his 90th birthday, and his 95th and 100th. God bless him and his family. I voted for him twice and would do it again if he would run. NOW, for all you "potty mouths" out there, on both sides, I have a bar of soap for each of you! Shame on you! Neither of you could carry his jock strap!

    June 12, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. John, Rochester MN

    He was in as much freefall as his son put the economy into.

    June 12, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. JayG

    Tanya, how dare you talk about Bush wasting tax dollars when we have a Obama's stimulus bill paying for honey bee insurance!

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

    Liberals hate George H. W. Bush because he is a man of integrity who served his country with honor in WWII. Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

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

    some comments on here are simply aghasting. Jon in CA said something that is simply unworthy of repetition.
    What a way to put hatred back in our lives "Jon in CA." People like you need to be educated and taught some real life lessons. Sitting behind internet walls and saying things like that is shameful and disgusting.

    As far as Republican, Bushes or Palins are concerned. They all are living off of dreams set out by our tax dollars. They made US into a prison state and created wars and hatred among Americans and among people of the world.

    Sarah Palin can't even take a little joke off of Letterman and is using his comments for her own flight attendant imagery and public sympathy.

    Conservatives are known to hate, hate and more hate. Conservatives have no value of human life or respect. Unless its their own families. Look at Cheney, he is a neo-con but defends his lesbian daughter. What a mockery and hipocricy by the right wing freaks!

    June 12, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Brijesh Kukreja

    Both of the bushes have no shame. Both have ruined the country and made it poor. People are suffering job losses with homes being forclosed and here Bushes are enjoying the jump.

    What a shame!! They certainly dont deserve this. They should be helping out people and doing community service for what they have done to this country.

    June 12, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Damon

    Way to go! Livin' life to the fullest. An inspiration to the younger folk.

    Thanks for your service... even though I disagree with him and his son.

    June 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. Brijesh Kukreja

    What a shame to destroy the country and having fun. This is for both the Bushes who have been bad for this country.

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

    we should all be so lucky at 85! congrats!

    June 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Kentucky

    While I did not vote for George Bush senior or junior for that matter, I respect the father. He had guts, brains and courage. Something that never appeared to pass on to his son.

    June 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. JayG

    Randy: You have got to be kidding me. Bush family is worst than Hitler and Sadaam??? Bush didnt send people to gas chambers and persecute people based on their race.

    June 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. Robyn

    Good for him! There is so much jealousy and ignorance and hate in this country. It is sad people have to be that way.

    June 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Ben

    Can the far left please stop crying about the Bush family. I realized at a young age that Liberals love to whine and cry about everything.

    – I dont make enough money
    – My boss is too tough on me
    – Can we unionize?

    Sound familier Libs? Maybe one day you will wake up and realize that most Republicans don't care who the President is. We like to accomplish things on our own. We don't count on government for anything. Maybe now that your savior is in office the libs can get even more handouts.

    June 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. Ummm

    We should have every republican jump out of a plain...so they get that sense of fear they so love instilling in the american people through their wicked venomous psycho talk!

    June 12, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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