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. My Observation

    It is so strange but you never see these Doctos coming out and publicly chastising skinny people for being anorexic, suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, alcoholism etc. We should also be concerned about the many unourished people walking around with their heads much bigger than all the other body parts.

    February 7, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. Janet

    Christie opened himself up for criticism by joking about his obesity – I imagine he thought it was hilarious to chow down on a donut on the Letterman Show because he needed a snack, but as soon as anyone brings up a health concern, he jumps into his attack dog mode. Really, wasn't he driven to an ER while in office because of shortness of breath? I believe he said that was due to asthma.

    February 7, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. ladyofthelake

    What we learn from this is that Christie is not presidential material. If he is the GOP nominee we will see another Dem president.

    February 7, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Angryagain

    @Sniffit: in cases like this health does matters a lot because if he isn't healthy you are voting for whom ever is the VP.

    February 7, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  5. Pablo

    Even his doctors say his luck is going to run out relatively soon unless he take appropriate action. Even though there is a lot I like about Christie, I wonder about the judgement and self discipline of a man who cannot control his eating habits, even at his own peril.

    February 7, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I don't think his weight hurts his chances as much as his draconian policies as governer.

    February 7, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  7. hcc2011

    At the end of the article we have him basically giving in and saying "She's right". So why even write this dumb article? Of course she's right and his own doctor agrees. He's an unpleasant aggressive man who should've respected the words of an expert but instead assaulted her verbally. Is this what we want in a president?

    February 7, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. Chipster

    She is not his doctor. It is highly unlikely that she has seen his medical records or examined him. It is extremely unprofessional for her to make such a comment. Yes, his doctor has a plan for him. Doesn't your doctor have a plan for you? If not, you need a new doctor. Being overweight can be unhealthy. Being an athlete can be unhealthy. Being thin by eating the wrong things or not eating at all is unhealthy. There are many unhealthy people today who are not overweight. At my office, there are many physical fitness fanatics who have had multiple surgeries, costing the company far more than my few medical bills each year. I'm a little overweight but have been blessed so far with good health – normal tests, costing the company very little in comparison. I think this doctor should apologize and then shut up.

    February 7, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Todd

    The thing is, the doctor used her credentials as former WH doc to take a stab at the Governor. What she did was unproffesional at best, and just plain mean at worste. I think the Governor knows how much he weights and what his risks are (No MD required). People just don't know how to be polite anymore. Governor Christie hasn't been the model od civility but he has made a tremedous turn as of late when it comes to serving his people. Lets keep him on the right track

    February 7, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Cali MD

    If Gov. Chris Christie were a patient of Dr. Mariano she would be in violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.
    As a MD she is, at the very least, in violation of her oath; "to do no harm"
    As a MD with only statistical information on which to base an opinion on a specific individual she is irresponsible. Additionally, even if her concerns are valid (they are), her choice of venue for voicing her concerns was inappropriate .
    Finally, as a human being she has acted without regard or sensitivity to Gov. Christie and his family and has shown no remorse.
    If I had psychiatric practice, I would suggest Dr. Mariano take a battery of test for psychopathic tendencies

    February 7, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. poltimum

    If her comments make him actually do something about his obesity it will be for the best. He is 50 years old and at least 150 lbs overweight. He won't last another ten years if he doesn't shed a minimum of 100 pounds – which takes discipline. Actually doing it will increase his appeal and make him a possible contender against the democratic for 2016 (if the Repubs will support him – which is debatable since he won't do s he is told). Without loosing the weight he looses respeot and he does not appear in control of himself. I like C
    hristies and hope he looses the lbs for his own sake and so he can be a contender.

    February 7, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. Vickie

    Is this what we would like for our next President? Someone who tells people to "shut up" because he doesn't like what someone says? Someone who sloppily eats a donut with food hanging off his mouth on national television? Obviously Christie has very little self control himself......do we want him making decisions for us and representing America to the world? God help us if this is the exampke of keadership for our future

    February 7, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. jerri uhl

    I love how he comes out and tells a doctor to shut up about his weight when the day before he had a press conference and stated I quote 'My doctor continues to warn me my luck is going to run out relatively soon" look it up youtube "Matter of time". Just keep you mouth shut yourself. You have people that are concerned about you, this doctor supports you and you tell her to shut up.

    February 7, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. val

    Christy is right, she is a hack looking for the spotlight. No professional would act as she did, and if she was so great why did Clinton need open heart surgery soon after leaving office? Should we put her education and experince under a microscope to examine, or should we assume it was lousy training being she could not prevent Clinton from needing the surgery so soon after leaving office? It is like a teacher witth legal credentals telling some mother in another state that she is a lousy parent when she knows nothing about the child or the parent. America is becoming a nation of bully hacks trying to order the people around and take away privacy and freedom. Live and let live, what ever happened to that!!!

    February 7, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. A Kickin` Donkey

    The Presidency is a privaledge; NO ONE is entitled to it. Mitt Romney was asked, rightly, to present 10 YEARS of tax returns and details on his secretive, off-shore bank accounts. Is this fair? No, not for the individual. Similarly, IF Christie wants to pursue the Oval Office, he needs to lose a tremendous amount of weight.

    He should have no SELFISH EXPECTATION that he should be given this office in a condition where the lives and economic fortunes of over 300 million people might EASILY be put at risk by a catastrophic health failure. Whatever his strengths, he IS NOT uniquely qualified and as such, it is unreasonable to ask the citizentry to look the other way and give him this prize.

    February 7, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. geeky

    Sounds like Gov. Christie is in denial. He says he's the "healthiest fat guy you know," but he is not fat. He is morbidly obese. There is no such thing as a healthy morbidly obese guy. And handling a week or two of a rigorous schedule after Sandy is nothing compared to the relentless schedule of a President for 4 long years.

    February 7, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. ldm

    dr. Mariano is wrong and she should apologize. I don't know her personally but have worked with people who did prior to being selected for duty at the WH. According to them, she is extremely nice and hard working but she is also a kingdom builder (the expansion of the WH healthcare resources under her time there was amazing and, in my view, completely unnecessary) and a horn tooter who was so caught up in her career she forgot about her family. Bill Clinton's remarkable, vegan based diet and recovery most certainly did not occur under her care which the interview video seemed to imply. If Chris Christie wants results like Clinton had, he should consult Dr. Joel Fuhrman in Flemington, NJ. Maybe Dr. Mariano is not getting enough business in the post WH concierge medical practice she set up?

    February 7, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. Harry

    I'll never understand fat people. All you have to do to lose weight is decide to not eat anything between meals. Problem solved. They will feel so much better and be so much healthier, and live longer. I just will never understand why people choose to be overweight.

    February 7, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  19. pprty

    LAY OFF GOV. CHRISTIE! He has a big heart. Pick on Boehner for smoking & drinking if ya have to pick on someone!!

    February 7, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. Larry L

    @Karen

    If you look at me and my husband, he looks healthy, I look obese. He has high cholesterol and high blood pressure. My cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar are fine, even though I need to lose 50 pounds.
    ========================================================================================== If you need to lose 50 pounds and your doctor isn't concerned you need to get a new doctor. Obesity promises many more problems than those simply related to cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Preventive medicine is a huge part of every physician's job and they should take every opportunity to educate our population on the risks of obesity.

    February 7, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. don

    Christie.is not ready for prime time.

    February 7, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He's ok for NJ, but not the world. Definitely NOT Presidential material.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I agree Wake up People!

    February 7, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. TheObserver

    So Chris Christie won't acknowledge facts....and this will HURT his chances to gain the Republican nomination? Yeah right, Republicans are MASTERS of not acknowledging facts, it's what they do! It's the keystone of their philosophy!

    Oh and by the way, minorities don't exist, global warming doesn't exist, and our gun laws are fine the way they are.

    February 7, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Larry L

    @Marie MD

    "I know fat people who are healthier than skinny or normal weight people."
    ============================================================================================= Christie isn't fat – he's morbidly obese. We've all got anecdotal stories of "old uncle Fred... smoked three packs a day and drank a quart of whiskey – never ate anything but bacon. He lived to be 99 when he was killed in a brawl in a brothel...". Sure...

    A very few folks might beat the odds but medicine isn't based on statistical out-liers. Fat people get much, much higher rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, orthopedic injury, and even cancer. Imagine a person 100 pounds overweight. Visualize the strain of carrying around two sacks of concrete – everywhere you go. Christie is more than 100 pounds overweight! Statistically, his odds of finishing a term in an extremely high-stress job like the Presidency are low. Two terms? Very unlikely.

    February 7, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. ST

    Chris Christie has to do something on his body. I watched him during Letterman show, could not realise whether he was sitting or standing. I can imagine how uncomfortable he feels in that body. Instead of going to the show, he could have gone to see the doctor. It can be done Christie, get started and take one important step in your life.

    February 7, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
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