February 6th, 2013
04:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Christie calls out former WH physician, doc unmoved

(CNN) – Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday blasted as a "hack" a former White House physician following her assessment in a CNN interview the day before that his weight may cause him to die in office but the doctor is standing her ground.

On Wednesday, Christie called Dr. Connie Mariano and "vented," according to the doctor who served in the White House during the Clinton presidency. After the conversation with Christie, she spoke with CNN's National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta and stood by her statements and professed no regrets.

Christie has spoken openly about his weight and health concerns and even poked fun at himself – most recently at a Monday appearance on David Letterman's late night program, saying "I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life." He punctuated the joke by snacking on a doughnut midway through the interview because he "didn't know it was going to be this long."

But he wasn't pleased when Mariano offered her assessment in the interview without having evaluated him, describing her publicly as "just another hack who wants five minutes on TV."

"If she wants to get on a plane and come here to New Jersey and ask me if she wants to examine me and review my medical history, I will have a conversation with her about that," Christie said after touring the post-Superstorm Sandy reconstruction effort in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

"Until that time she should shut up," he fired.

Mariano told CNN after his comments, "It's unfortunate that he took it in that manner. It was meant to be constructive."

"But when I see someone who looks like him, you don't have to be a White House doctor to be concerned about health issues," she said, adding that she had invited him to her offices in Arizona.

Mariano made her initial comments in an interview with CNN Tuesday.

She acknowledged that she is a Republican and supported him running for office, but characterized herself as "a physician more than I'm a Democrat or Republican and I'm worried about this man dying in office," she said.

Christie is widely thought to be considering a presidential run and has not ruled out that prospect. Instead, he has said he is focused on his current job in the Garden State and is up for re-election this year.

But his health is "almost like a time bomb that's waiting to go off unless he addresses those issues before running for office," she said.

Christie has pointed to the long and stressful days he worked during and after the Sandy crisis as a sign he can handle the demands of public office and his physical condition.

He mocked her as a "genius" for her ability to diagnose him remotely.

"I find it fascinating that a doctor in Arizona who has never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history, could make a diagnosis from 2,400 miles away," he said. He added that someone with "the privilege of having a medical license should, in my view, conduct themselves more responsibly."

Mariano replied that she did not need to perform a formal physical evaluation: "When you see it, you can't help it. It's an issue."

At a press conference on Monday Christie said that he and his doctors did have a plan for his health, and "whether it'll be successful or not, you'll all be able to notice."

"My doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon, so believe me it's something I'm very conscious of," he said.

– CNN's Jim Acosta contributed to this report


Filed under: Chris Christie
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Zenger Folkman

    Christie's just a morbidly obese man trapped in the body of a fat guy.

    February 7, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Natalie

    It's not that he's morbidly obese that bothers me, that can be changed. it's his inability to make that change that gives me pause over his ability to exercise self-discipline and control. The POTUS needs those qualities. Obama struggles with smoking, but I believe he quit.

    February 7, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. scarf

    Generally, I like Christie. However, I have some concerns voting fot him for POTUS. First, his health would DEFINITELY be an issue in the campaign, so his selection as VP would be important. I suspect that circumstances would require that he select someone who I could never accept as President, so that would dampen my enthusiasm for him. Also, he seems somewhat thin-skinned (no pun intended) for a politician, and way too sensitive to criticism and too bambastic to be Commander-in-Chief. Maybe he'll fall over dead from a heart attack before 2016 and save me the angst of whether or not to vote for him.

    February 7, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Steve in MA

    He is corpulent. The reason that word works is because those who are corpulent have a much greater risk of becoming a CORPSE. I love Christie's brashness and his dedication to the good of the people. But when his children asked him, "are you gonna die in office?" The truthful answer he should have gave them, more so than slimmer people, is "quite possibly." Even if your numbers are good, at that advanced weight, the strain on your blood vessels is so great that a tragedy is INEVITABLE. For the good of yourself, your family, New Jersey and the Republican party, quit blaming the doctor and LOSE 100 LBS.

    February 7, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Anonymous

    We can only hope that his luck runs out very soon. He is the stereotypical loud, classless buffoon from New Jersey.

    February 7, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Clyde

    We can only hope his luck runs out soon! He is a stereotypical loud, classless buffoon. Its a shame that he's the person that the New Jersey electorate have chosen to be the public face of their state.

    February 7, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. DCBuck

    I agree with Christie – this woman is just angling for her shot at publicity to boost her practice. She must indeed be a miracle doctor to be able to diagnose someone solely from watching video clips of him. Just as not every thin person is healthy, not every overweight person is unhealthy. And while Christie did admit his physician is advising him to make changes, that's an issue that's between him and his physician. Her actions seem to indicate that either she is desperate for publicity, she's a nanny who wants to tell everyone how to live, or both.

    February 7, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Sid

    Christie has a very bad BMI-this is a grave health matter.I dont think you need be a DO or MD to know that.Televison is full of comments about patients with medical issues who the doctor has not personally seen because of the doctor's medical knowledge.If we respect a doctor's knowledge about a general medical condition, then Gov.Christie has clearly overreacted.

    February 7, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. critical thinking

    Funny, but she looks like she could shed a couple pounds herself.

    February 7, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Anonymous

    I hope Mariano eats a low-carb diet (no simple carbs and very few complex carbs from whole grains) consisting of 12-15 servings of organic produce and at least 100g of grass-fed/free-range meats daily; never drinks, smokes, has risky relations (and has a monogamous partner), or participates in extreme or dangerous sports; works out three to five days a week and weight trains; gets adequate and frequent rest; and, of course, gets regular checkups because I definitely don't want to have to pay for her shortcomings. Let's not forget that we are paying for her health care and pension for the rest of her life, so she better be the model citizen.

    February 7, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. vance lebeouf jr

    if the doctor was so concern about the governor's weight why didn't she consult him privately, I think this is very unprofessional of her, to make a commit about another person's health problem, on world wide news, if this had been an ordinary person such as myself, she could of care less. But being this is a goveronr esp. Christie, this was her way to get on the world wide news.

    February 7, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Susan

    I hope Mariano eats a low-carb diet (no simple carbs and very few complex carbs from whole grains) consisting of 12-15 servings of organic produce and at least 100g of grass-fed/free-range meats daily; never drinks, smokes, has risky relations (and has a monogamous partner), or participates in extreme or dangerous sports; works out three to five days a week and weight trains; gets adequate and frequent rest; and, of course, gets regular checkups because I definitely don't want to have to pay for her shortcomings. Let's not forget that we are paying for her health care and pension for the rest of her life, so she better be the model citizen.

    February 7, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Governor Christie hasn't been the model od civility "

    So, we're on to another day of either condemning Chris Christie or defending Chris Christie? I agree that he hasn't been the model of civility. Some might find Christie telling folks to shut up a new and refreshing addition to politics. I do not. Nor would I ever vote for him. Not because of his weight, mind you. I simply do not like the man personally. I will, however, give him credit for his high approval rate in the state of N.J. Apparently his constituents like him a great deal. And, yes. It IS their choice to approve or not approve the job Chris Christie is doing for THEM. Should he decide to run for President ... well, then ... I, too, can debate why I do not support him (and / or his policies). Until that time, I'm on the outside looking in.

    February 7, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Choconet

    That WH doctor's statements was completely unprofessional!!! She is not his personal physician nor has she examined him or reviewed his medical records. All she has to go by is what she sees visually and that's quake medicine!!! This man is healthy today and she and other negative minded doctors are speaking death over him tomorrow!!! Hell everyone is slated to die one day!!! They and everyone else should be taking each day as it comes because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Tomorrow has enough worries and trouble of its own. The doctors cannot predict with 100% accuracy that this man is going to die in the white house, but I'm sure if you keep speaking evil over a person it will eventually come to pass. So RIP Christy in how ever many years they've given you to live.

    February 7, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Jackson

    So he starts out saying, how can she diagnose from 2400 miles away. Then he says "... you (the public) will notice if his medical plan is successful ...". So, he's conceding that his physical appearance will change if the plan works, but she's a "hack" for "remotely diagnosing" based on the same said physical appearance. It's obvious he needs to do something. Lashing out and being overly aggressive is consistent with the way he deals with those that challenge him in any way. He's got some good attributes as a politician, but a leader needs to have temperament under control.

    February 7, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. tet1953

    I like Chrstie but the fact is, in he wants a long term future in politics or anything else he has to do something about it. You don't see many fat old guys around do you?

    February 7, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    I should point out that the right wing loved Christie and most Democrats disliked Christie right up until Hurricane Sandy. The man has not changed. Only the public's perception of him has changed. He's still the bully. He's still the guy who gutted NJ's education budget. He's still the same guy who killed jobs and stalled economic growth for decades when he cancelled NJ's final portion of a multi-state high speed rail system. Can you say rail system to nowhere?

    February 7, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. COlady

    Hey, if Gov. Christie can go out and publicly make light of the situation and try to play it off like he's, basically, healthy then I have no problem whatsoever with a trained professional making the public comment that he's not healthy and that the stress of holding the highest office in the country, when combined with his very obvious current "health" would kill him. She's right: you don't have to be a doctor to see that he's a ticking time bomb. He seems to be a fairly intelligent man. If Mike Huckabee (who isn't too bright in my opinion) can lose a bunch of weight, then I'm sure Gov. Christie can do it, too! No more jokes, no more excuses! Get to it, Gov! I would consider voting for him next time around (I'm an independent), but not in his current state of "health". Too much of a risk.

    February 7, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. steve

    She doesn't know his medical history - she doesn't even know his blood pressure - and she dares to judge him without an examination? Christie is right, she just wants publicity.

    February 7, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Pete

    just lap-band it and put this behind you.

    Christie 2016, Worth the Weight.

    February 7, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. DC Observer

    Christie sees any chance of running for president slipping away due to a box of donuts. Seriously though, if christie has any national aspirations, he MUST begin a focused weight loss program NOW or he will never be considered a viable candidate for Prez due to health concerns.......He may be BIG in the GOP but his physical BIG traits will dash any Presidentaial hopes unless he gets on the treadmill now....

    February 7, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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