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. Barbara

    Re "American" comment, I am a liberal and l like and admire George H.W. Bush. Please don't speak for me. George W. Bush is another matter.

    June 12, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Mark

    I love this guy. Such an inspiration and true gentleman.

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Rene

    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 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Joe in CA

    Hey DEVA 122, my job security is better NOW than when dumb ass "W" was in office.

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Uncle Ellsworthy

    @ Brandy

    Hey you idiot this is not an article about Sara Palin, It's about Bush 41.

    Your comments sound like your too stupid to read, it's pretty obvious really.

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Iceburg

    Randy your an idiot:)

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Rene

    before i'm corrected by some smarta$$ republican...i meant 'plane' not 'plain'...

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Ray in NC

    For those of you giving him grief about jumping in tandem, just don't forget that his first jump was a solo jump from a burning plane in the middle of WWII.

    All of you haters need to get a life. At least the Bushes haven't soldout the American economy like your hero Obama. Lets see if you are still in love with him in a few years.

    June 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. GOPbslapper

    Though an honest evaluation of Bush Sr. would grade him as a mediocre President. It makes the short comings of his son George, all the more Glaring. Many families have at least one kid that is a Dud, I'm sure Bush Sr. wishes he would have pulled out the night George Jr was conceived.

    June 12, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Randy, Indiana

    To bad his chute opened

    June 12, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Big Boss

    They destroyed the whole country, now they're enjoying life.

    June 12, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Joe in CA

    Hey Joe Jackson, 133. I'm with you. I wonder if he would have jumped if he had to PAY for this photo op.

    June 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Woflangel

    Oh, the liberals, if they only knew what they were talking about. Try looking up the word "ignorant" in the dictionary!!

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday and looking forward to reading about your next jump on your 90th.

    June 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Chad

    Excellent grammar and speeling Randy! You sure make your arguments seem very official.

    June 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. hannah

    Big whoop. The entire Bush family is nuts. And why are we still having to read about them? We kicked them out, last I heard!

    June 12, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Rachel

    Amen, Ann!

    June 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  17. Rosalinda

    Since so many right-wingers questioned the cost of Obama's NY date night, what did Sr. Bush's jump cost the taxpayers?

    June 12, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. GPM

    I live in Houston and love it when GB Sr. and the misses get put up on the kiss cam at Astros. They are a great American couple, worthy of the respect of all Americans, just as the Obama's are. Happy birthday.

    June 12, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Dave

    To: Frank Shaw:

    Well said!!! Thank you so much!!

    "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 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Richard G Rummings

    Happy BDay Mr. Bush

    It is great to see men of honor having a little clean fun. I wish you and you family a long life. I consider both presidents american heros!

    June 12, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. Charles

    This thread is ridiculous. Was welfare suspended this month? What's with the attitudes today?

    June 12, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Andrew

    all you people that that say the president is terrible, the republicans suck, the democrats suck too, bla bla bla bla... People why don't you step back and look at where you live? You try hate monging in a country like china od NK and see what happens. Be glad you have the freedom you do to spread the filth from your hate filled souls. But remember Karma is a wonderful thing......

    June 12, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    I'm embarrassed to see some of these comments on this site. No matter what you think of a former President, they deserve our respect, not hateful comments.

    June 12, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Brian Paul

    After reading some of the comments in regards to president bush senior, I'm embarrassed to be a liberal. George Bush Senior is a very honorable man and deserves better.

    June 12, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. iisJoMamma

    Ban Jon in CA. Get him outta here. Here's another response to Jon's vicious side: Wow,
    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.

    June 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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