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. BobR

    Happy Birthday, Mr. President!! What character and dignity. A war hero, a President and Barbara Bush's husband, couldn't be any better.

    June 12, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Jack Doherty

    GHW Bush Sr. was not a good president. GW Bush Jr. was a terrible president. Just wait 2 years and you will see that Obama is going to be far worse than either Bush.
    Frankly, Obama has done the opposite of just about everything he promised in his campaigns to get elected. Talk about teflon president – why isn't Obama being hammered for bending over backwards and forwards to kiss up to Islam? Personally, I think a president should follow the principles of separation of church and state. Regardless of what you think of Islam, a president should not be endorsing nor condemning any religion including Christianity. Religion should be protected from AND excluded from any governing power.

    June 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Lori

    Wow, all the liberals and their negative comments. If you hate this man so much, why did you click on the article? CHANGE 2012.

    June 12, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Where was Obama born?


    Some other third world country?

    Where are the real answers!

    Why are more people killed in Washington D.C. than Iraq?

    I thought that you were not aloud to own a gun in D.C., didn't everyone get the memo?

    June 12, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Sandra

    George W. Bush mislead the Americans on WMDs of Iraq. Intelligence reports were manufactured to mislead America into Iraq war. GWB admitted this in his farewell address. None of the 9/11 terrorists were from Iraq. In fact these terrorists were from Countries that are friends of America. 4200 US Troop have died and 46000 US Troops have been injured. Bush should be in Jail.

    June 12, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Joe

    donttreadonme you are a complete IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!! Clinton was trying to kill Bin Ladin and stop his camps in Somalia without spending trillions of dollars and screwing us all but the republicans said he was only doing to take the heat of off the Monica thing and demanded he get out. Do you pay attention to what goes on in Somolia now?

    Bush Jr ran this country into a hole so you can all stop crying over Dems hurting the economy, we did it.

    Steve(the real one) Wow CNN printed your crap, what Mommy didn't love you enough. You are one sick person you make donttreadonme look educated.

    By the way I am a Republican, you guys are the reason our party is hurting so bad

    Prez-Nice jump way to go!

    June 12, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. hypocrites_are_everywhere

    Give H.W. Bush some credit! It's W. Bush that is the dummy one - didn't listen to his dad's advice on Iraq, draft dodged the Vietnam war, barely graduated from Yale & HBS; catered to the right-wing, gun/religion clingers, etc.

    Conservatives, expect trash talks by libs. You get what you dished out the last 8 years!

    Libs, Aim your anger well! Otherwise, you have as much credibility as W. Bush, Palin, or Pelosi!

    Shouldn't we all be working together, focusing our anger, and helping the Pakistanis purge the Talibans/Al Quaeda from the Swat Valley? Let's not lose our focus (Talibans & our economy)!

    June 12, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. victor medina,md

    Congratulations Mr. Bush (Sr) on your 85th birthday.What a wonderful way to celebrate it!
    Happy birthday

    June 12, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Lynn

    Happy B-day 41!!! Atleast you know how to party and sky dive...unlike most of the folks talking trash in here.

    By the way it looks like GOP's will be taking the house back in 2012!!!

    This country is so way off from being UNITED! Every country knows it but us! Far left and Far right...who cares anymore!

    June 12, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  10. whaley41

    Good going Mr. President! Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you Lily in Texas for your service to our country also. I wonder how many of these Bush haters have stood in the line of fire for our country? Not to many I imagine!

    June 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. G

    for those that are wondering about the funding for this jump...it came from the UNFUNDED budget of the army...this is money that our troops have gathered by perfoming outstanding maintenance on our equipment preventing them from breaking down, thus the money that would be spent to fix it went to an UNFUNDED category...this money is spent on buying extra equipment, upgrading equipment, and helping people out if they need something...and yes it does still have to be approved by individuals before it is spent...and that jump also kept some pilots qualified to fly their aircraft as well as to keep the parachuter qualified to jump...so it wasnt just for Bush to enjoy a much deserved birthday gift, it was also helping our troops out by keeping them ready to go at a moments notice...there is a bigger picture than just the one of him jumping...

    Congrats to Bush for a successful jump...best wishes and God Speed!

    For those that think it is ridiculous that the money was spent for this celebration...it goes both ways you know...Obama spent money to get his new dog trained and actually has a dog sitter...but you dont hear any complaints about that money? hmmm...

    God Bless America...if you dont like it here...then LEAVE!!

    June 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Aiken

    It's ironic that some of the most angry, hate-filled, judgmental people in this country belong to the political party that identifies itself with peace, love and understanding.

    June 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. James McNeil

    Nothing is as hardy as old fools!

    June 12, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Rachel

    While I'm a democrat, I still always liked George H.W. Bush. This isn't about politics, and wish those making negative political remarks would keep them to topics related to current politics.

    "Happy Birthday! President Bush."

    June 12, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Amazed

    I just read the post criticizing GB Sr for wearing "a yellow turtleneck" to Obama's inauguration and not a shirt and tie ... omg - how dumb and lame are you? Both Mr. and Mrs. GB Sr were wearing yellow winter scarfs around their necks to keep out the cold.

    June 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. mike

    I just turned 65, rode some God foresaken Batman(?) ride at Magic Mtn. with my Grandkids. Never again. Jumping out of a plane at 85? I feel inadequate.

    Way to go Mr. President.

    June 12, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. JayG

    Way To Go George! Ive had the pleasure of going to Kennebunkporte and going to St. Ann's Church with the Bush'es and even getting and picture with G.H.W. It will sit above my tv forever! The Bush family has and always will be classy.

    June 12, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Julie in LA

    I agree that comments like those from 'Jon in CA' have no place on a board like this. I thought I'd find open-minded, educated, thinking citizens of the world on a CNN board. 'Jon in CA' needs to find other grounds to promote his violent hate, or better yet, just shut up.

    Like his views or not, HW has served our country for decades and is just having some fun on his birthday – with way more guts than I have!

    June 12, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. GOPbslapper

    For those who haven't done it, sky diving is very easy. Especially a tandem jump. Beginners are all restricted to tandem jumps, you don't just get thrown out of a plane your first time. That said, lets not punish Bush Sr. too much for what I think we can all agree his Moronic son did. Sr was no Gem, but compared to the Failings of Jr. he's looking a bit better these days.

    June 12, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. I'm A Democrat

    Happy B Day President Bush. May you have many more.

    June 12, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Jon in CA

    @ John in Rochester says,

    "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."

    THANK YOU for being one of the few intelligent readers!! Liberals can't see past their own hatred to catch the irony of my remarks to the idiot who hoped the President's parachute didn't open.

    June 12, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. LacrosseMom

    @ RON.......... Well said!! Agree 100% with you! Why can't people comment, make their points without being vile?

    @ Jon in CA.......... Truly a rude, mean, nasty, vile comment! No matter what someone else says or those a decent person will not stoop down into the gutter with them!

    Why is CNN allowing hideous comments like "Jon in CA" to be posted?

    June 12, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. dontreadonme

    I now for the first time in my life wonder if a life spent serving this nation is worth it anymore? He represents the last of a great generation of men. Folks that were not looking for entitlements or hand outs.

    June 12, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. LacrosseMom

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE H. BUSH! God bless you with many more years of health, peace and joy.

    June 12, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. me

    a jump at age 85... WOW!

    what do you think would have happened with the economy if Clinton had not left surplus?

    June 12, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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