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. John, Rochester MN

    Yes, the Dems approved the war, based on the false/invented intelligence given to them by Bush/Cheney. Wake up.

    By the way, people, I think Jon in CA was being facetious in order to show how ridiculous David's comment was. Hence the "have a great weekend" at the end there. I could be wrong, but that's how it looks to me.

    June 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. marinevet

    can you liberals possibly be any more pathetic???? attacking a man as he celebrates his b-day. all you do is trash and take. you obamamaniacs criticize the bush's for wasting tax dollars???? that, in itself, is AMAZING!!!! idiocracy is truly taking shape.

    June 12, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Lily in Texas

    I served for 6 years went to Iraq and Afghanistan and couldn't be any prouder to have served under the Bush Administration, I'm glad I don't have to serve under a horrible administration that knows nothing about the military and wasn't even brave enough to serve himself!

    And stop putting my fallen comrades names in yall's mouth they died honorably fighting for their country! No matter what anybody says!!

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

    WOW! Such nastiness from BOTH sides! Good for 41! 85 years old and jumps out of a plane to celebrate. Push away from your keyboards folks and think about 'could I ever do that?' Honest to Pete, is there NOTHING good in this world???

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

    For all of you who continue to ask, "who is paying for all of this?" When you serve as President of the United States, even if you liked or disliked them, they are protected for life by the secret service.

    Didn't 'we' just pay $350,000 to have a photo shoot in NYC to re-inact 9/11 under Obama's watch?

    I hope when I am 85 I will still be health enough to have the opportunity to sky-dive......

    June 12, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Eric

    Ben, don't you conservatives need the government to protect you from all the evil Muslims hiding around every corner, trying to take away your liberty?

    June 12, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Ron, Sanford Maine

    I live in Sanford near Kennebunkport and saw the Army prop plane and the Army Knights skydiving team pull out in SUVs and assumingly head to the Bush compound just a few miles away.

    This Army team travels the country to put on shows as a recruiting tool. I am sure this was on their itinerary for some time and was perhaps in their budget as well.

    Yes, we pay for this but how many 85 year olds are in this kind of shape? I am not a Republican but I say hooray Mr. President. Hope you celebrate many more.

    June 12, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Brian E

    he wanted to see what the economy felt like

    June 12, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. tdawg69

    If you are going to criticize someone's spelling, you should spell correctly yourself.

    June 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Jake James

    I hope this jump wasn't on the taxpayer's bill.
    Depite my dislike for W, I'm glad that Bush Sr. landed safe.
    He wasn't the worst president of all time, but he fathered a couple of dim wits.

    June 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Wow some of you really are stupid

    what kind of 3rd grade comments are being posted?

    way to go Mr. Bush, you are an inspiration

    June 12, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. AJ

    Maybe next time he can have Palin's daughter on the way down...

    June 12, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. brad

    Happy 85'th birthday! Thank you for helping to prove that life is not over once you retire! I have absolutely no comment about bush the president, or bush the war hero... however, Bush the skydiver, is an inspiration.

    It is really saddening that some people have left such hateful comments on this forum. George Bush Sr, accomplished something with this skydive that the majority of you would not have the nerve to even attempt.

    Skydiving helps people to appreciate the beauty and preciousness of life.

    "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

    June 12, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Trish

    I don't know about the Bush family, but I love those Army guys!

    June 12, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Hawleywood

    He is a war veteran and fought for our country. Everyone seems to forget the past. I wish him the best. All the negative comments come from the low end that need help from the government.

    June 12, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Jo

    Regardless of which party George Sr. belongs to, I think it is totally awesome that an 85-year-old man is skydiving. I may not agree with him politically, but I have to say that this is a pretty kick-butt way to celebrate a birthday! YOU GO GEORGE!

    June 12, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Patriot

    I never voted for Bush Sr, but I'll have to give him credit. He's got a lot of guts to do what he's doing at the ripe old age of 85. I wish him luck!

    June 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Heidi

    Good for GHW Bush. Congrats on hitting 85. May we all feel well enough to jump out of an airplane on our 85th. (You won't catch me up there but I would love to be healthy enough to do it...)

    June 12, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. jana

    C'mon guys. I voted Dem last election, but the former president did something neat. I hope other seniors out there are as adventureous. Why is all this bi-partisan hate over something like this? Can't we all just park the politics every once in a while? Happy Birthday President Bush from a 29 year old democrat woman in Iowa. You go with your bad self!!! Anytime you are in IA, I would love to buy you and your wife a beer.

    June 12, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. MHouse

    George H.W. Bush is truely one of the great american presidents too bad his son had to drag down the family name when he made it to office.

    I'm not even American & I salute George senior.

    BC Canada

    June 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Hoping for an intelligent female GOP candidate

    Way to go, former President Bush. I hope the jump was as much fine as it looks. I sincerely expect to see you jumping in celebration of your 90th year.

    June 12, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. The Real Slim Shady

    He's a brave man. I am not jumping out of a plane at any age.

    June 12, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. genevieve

    hum hum s'cuse me but

    as far as ruining America I think the current "Messiah" hum!!!!president is doing a great job on his own without anybody's help.

    Dear liberals, short term memory is affecting them too, how sad!!!! the whole "f...." mortgage crisis being caused mostly on policies enacted under democrats administrations. But hey who can remember that far back.

    June 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. Liam Danhof

    So how much did this little deal cost us? I see that no one is comparing it to Mr. Obama going to NY to take in a show. Double standard as usual. I am sure the trip to NY was a lot cheaper then taking a military aircraft for a joy ride. If Obama did this he would have hell to pay from the republicians (small "r). Again, double standard.

    June 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. Shayla

    I'm beyond over all the hate and negativity brought by both sides. Let it go.

    Happy birthday, Mr. President. I think that it's pretty impressive to skydive at 85, or any age for that matter. Liberal or conservative, everyone needs to grow up.

    June 12, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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