February 6th, 2013
04:30 PM ET
10 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.

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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. Debo G

    This isn't all that complicated and in the end Christie admits that his doctors have a plan for him. Well, if he's so darn healthy, why have a plan? I think it's great that he can take jokes about his weight but once you get into the public world AND you have plans to run for President, every voter has the ability to make a comment and more importantly a decision whether he is a viable candidate. His weight/health issue is one fact to consider. If he thinks differently, he's just wrong. Besides his health, he ought to think about his crudeness. That might take more votes away than his health issues. Together, it might be enough to doom his candidacy.

    February 6, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Pander Bear

    Yeah, because fat guys with high blood pressure and anger managements problems are so "healthy"

    February 6, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Big fat distraction from CNN. Fact: what matters is Christie's policy positions and what he is doing and has done to NJ, particulalry the education system and things like his refusal of the tunnel project that would have created 6,000 jobs, reduced emissions and made countless middle-class workers' commutes more sane. CNN is just trying to drive the "Christie is fat" narrative so the GOP/TEatrolls can play the victim card about it and shut down any discussion of the actual merits (or lack thereof) of Christie as a POTUS candidate.

    February 6, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. ART

    Gov Christie it doesn't take a genius, its quite obvious to anyone with half a brain that you are obese and that is unhealthy, sorry,but it is what it is.

    February 6, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. critical thinking

    She was Clinton's doc? If I remember correctly Clinton underwent quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004. Hmmm, If she was any good, don't you think he could avoided open heart surgery if should would have done a better job examining him 10 years earlier.

    February 6, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Victoria Christian

    That Doctor was totally out of line. How dare she make such comments. I wouldn't trust her to come anywhere near me or any of my family.
    She is obviously an unethical bigot. He is NOT her patient. She had no right to make such public comments.

    February 6, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. nothing new here

    The worst thing that will happen – Christie will get stuck in the WH bathtub.

    February 6, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Coolergw

    Some people need to get a life! God did not make everyone to look like a spaghetti stick! I'm tired of people passing their judgement on others!

    February 6, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. p

    dude is really fat

    February 6, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. Joe

    I fell sorry for the doctor who clearly was just trying to encourage him to do something about his size. Calling her a "hack" shows me a unprofessional side of him that is not attractive. He will have to resolve his obesity himself for no one now is going to try to encourage him after he responded that way.

    February 6, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. Ron

    So Christie's own doctor says his luck is going to run out. That is essentially what the former WH doctor said as well. Why is he so angry and defensive about it?

    February 6, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Blink

    "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.

    His doctor is basically saying the same thing he just does not want his medical diagnosis discussed publicly by anyone with credentials. I am in my 50's and several of my fun overweight buddies are gone. He can deny it all he wants but everyone who has ever been at least 20lbs overweight has gotten the same lecture from their doctor. He has a short fuse. Quite funny.

    February 6, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. plain&simple

    I've known average weight people and thin people and fat people. You can generalize about any or all of them and their health.....that's it without an exam. Christie is right and the doctor should have only spoken in general terms. To comment directly about him as an individual was wrong. The doctor might as well look at a skinny person and say they should eat more! Brilliant!

    February 6, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. reddog50

    As a doctor, you should know better then to make a prognosis if you haven't examined a person. Yes being over weight is unhealthy and we all know that. Leave the predictions out of your assessments when you have no first hand knowledge.

    February 6, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Just Me

    The doctor is right, and not because she has not examined him disqualifys her from stating the obvious. He is at significant risk for sudden death along with other chronic illenesses associated with his weight. By any standards, Christie is morbidly obese, and rather than attack the messenger, he should heed the message before it's too late.

    I'm sure that right now where he sits, his blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol levels are all abnormal. To say he is the healthiest fat guy there is is denial at it's best. You cannot, and I repeat you cannot be healthy and be morbidly obese.

    In his current shape, I doubt he would get thru the rigours of the primaries least a term in the White House.

    February 6, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. scarf

    I'm a pathologist. I'll do his autopsy for free, but I'll need some special equipment. Like flaying hooks and rendering vats.

    February 6, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. reddog50

    The doctor should know better, you don't make a prognosis on someone you have never examined. Yes we all know that being over weight is unhealthy. Leave out the predictions of future events when you have no direct knowledge of the situation.

    February 6, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. Beatriz Boop

    I know I won't be voting for someone with such a short fuse...EVER.

    February 6, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. ghostriter

    He's huge. I mean Gilbert Grape huge. She's right. It doesn't take a Phd to see that Big 'Ums here may need to drop a few tons.

    February 6, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Goodguy6410

    Yep, he's fat. So what? The idea that a sitting governor would fly to visit with a rude doctor who, indeed, is looking for some residual fame after her old WH days, is ludicrous. Whose time is more important here: someone running a state and is definitely looking like a viable presidential candidate in 2016 or someone who can recognize fat when they see it? She should go back to practicing medicine in the doc-in-the-box office.

    February 6, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. All the good thoughts I had about this guy just evaporated

    It does NOT take an MD degree to know that it's unhealthy to be that OBESE.

    He may not have any emergent symptoms right this second – but he will – and soon – and it's VERY possible he could die in office due to his condition.

    100% chance of that? Well – NO – but then NO doctor is able to give a 100% diagnosis, so stop being silly & illogical!

    February 6, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. John

    Being very obese is like being a heavy smoker. You may be healthy now, but countless medical studies show obesity and smoking greatly increase the likelihood or early death

    February 6, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Donna

    "Victoria Christian
    That Doctor was totally out of line. How dare she make such comments. I wouldn't trust her to come anywhere near me or any of my family.
    She is obviously an unethical bigot. He is NOT her patient. She had no right to make such public comments."


    Lady, you are nuts, seek mental health services

    February 6, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Gonzoinhouston

    Maybe the left should start a conspiracy fringe group called the "faters" . They could rave about Christie cheating on his diet and concealing test results. Look how much fun the birthers had!

    February 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    Well that statement kinds moots out that whole diatribe about a doctor from 2400 miles away being able to diagnose you, and she's never even seen your medical records, how dare she, yada yada, yada yada... doesn't it?
    Sounds to me like you owe her her fee she was spot on...according to your doctors.
    Did you call her a "hack"? THAT sounded like the Christie we all know so well.

    February 6, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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