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. kerryzaputz

    I'm with Christie on this one. Has the good doctor publicly admonished Obama for his smoking or Bill Clinton for his promiscuity? I think not. I would add to Christie's statement that Dr Mariano appears to have been a token hire for the WH. Her medical pedigree is unimpressive but she's a Filipino American. Rimshot

    February 6, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Triletter

    Little touchy are we there, good Gov? Doesn't take a trained doctor to assess that the man is a health time bomb. Wish him best of luck, but he will live longer if he reduces his girth.

    February 6, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. bob aussie

    Wasn't her main job to administer anti-biotics for STD's to Clinton while he was there?

    February 6, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. chupacabra

    I will still vote for him anyway....its for potus..not another damn beauty contest!

    February 6, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Next we'll find out that smoking isn't good for you, global climate change is real, and the Earth is older than 6000 years!

    Christie needs to face reality. Statistically, really fat people die much earlier. Really. Many get diabetes and the last years of their life include loss of limbs, very frequent dibilitating illnesses, and even blindness caused by the disease. Fat people have far more heart disease and are even prone to greater risks from some cancers. Christie is by all accounts a pretty good guy – but he's morbidly obese and would be quite unlikely to survive on term as President.

    February 6, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. KB

    So it's ok that the First Lady is getting healthy while her husbands smokes and has beers to smooth over problems! Give me a break, my dad was so thin and had a heart attack, stroke, etc., give us another excuse to use the government to control us....arrested us for eating jelly doughnuts! What's next arrest us for eating Twinkies?

    February 6, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Jim Hahn

    You don't have to be an MD to know what Christie is obese. Rather than shout about it, perhaps he should think about actually doing something about it.

    February 6, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  8. epluribus

    WH doc should be more concerned about Obama's megalomania!

    February 6, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. RINO Bill

    The fact remains that American voters have not elected a person with Gov. Christie's weight problem since 1908 when President Taft took office. Christie must deal with his weight/health issue if he is to become a viable candidate ... or he better pick a damn good (read: non Tea Party) Vice Presidential running mate.

    February 6, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. mdn

    Christie doesn't seem to take criticism very well. I'm not sure that attacking the critic so viciously at every opportunity creates the image of a leader that Americans want. I hope he can find a way to moderate his outburst because he seems to be a truly decent, well intentioned person, that has the potential of serving this country well.

    February 6, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. widgetmaker

    Duh! Anyone that is that obese has serious health issues. Period. Doesn't even take an MD to make that prognosis – it's called commone sense. This guy is a ticking time bomb.

    February 6, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. PapaBear

    Gov, the truth hurt. I really don't car about him, because I don't have to pay for his great government health care that he is getting. Take responsibility for yourself.

    February 6, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. mary

    We all love a funny fat guy.. But we also know fat is not healthy.. And the longer you are fat, the older you are and fat.. The worse health you are in..
    So I think the guy knows this.. And the ball is in his court..
    People can not take the risk of voting for a guy that could go into a diabetic coma.. Or diabetic confusion.. Or worse..
    Or even less.. Lacking the energy for the job..
    I think if he wants to run, if he is serious .He will have the incentive to loose some weight..
    If not.. Then asking for the country to run the risk .. Is not going to work..
    I think he is well aware of this..
    Its his choice..

    February 6, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. confused

    That is why my sister is my doctor, and cousin is the Xray specialist. She atleast knows my family history.

    February 6, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Gabriella S.

    Even his voice sounds fat!

    The proof is in the pudding, i.e. Christie looks HUGE and in all likelihood has a lot of abnormally obese issues... the main one being denial about his problem.

    February 6, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. David

    If he was a little chunky it would be one thing but dude is morbidly obese, the doctor was just stating facts for anyone in his situation.

    February 6, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  17. harry Baxter

    Gov. Christie not only has a big ass....it's apparent that he has a big RED ass!

    February 6, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. FOX NEWS: The Dung Beetle of Journalism.

    I am no doctor, but it is plain to see the man is morbidly obese and that is a health concern in and of itself, not including the diseases that even Christie's doctor has stated he has been "lucky" to avoid to date.

    The doctor would not have spoken if he were a private citizen, but pointing out the obvious, for a public figure who is potentially looking for votes so he can head the country possibly, 8 years from now is simply a PSA.

    And no, I am not a fat bigot, as at 230, I am fat, 40+ pounds of extra baggage on my 6'2" frame, but i am not morbidly obese!

    February 6, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    I see the All-You-Can-Eat-Governer is keeping up his "tell it like it is no matter how crass" shtick. If he wants to be POTUS he'd better learn to tone it down. Being direct is one thing. Being rude and dismissive is another and those qualities DO NOT work well in world politics

    February 6, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. 21k

    i felt sorry for christie while watching him on letterman. it was somehow pathetic. he came across as a kind of sad clown. poor man, he's eating to try and quell some personal demon, probably related to how he was treated by his parents as a kid.

    February 6, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  21. DrChester

    The doctor may have been out of line but her comments ring very true. The presidency has seen fitter men age drastically while holding office, I doubt if Christie can even make it through the campaign let alone four years in office without a heart attack. if he runs then we better examine the VP more carefully than we have in the past. Not to worry though if Hilary runs it will not matter.

    February 6, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Rationalintn

    In the end, it's what comes out of Christie's mouth that is going to disqualify him from a national office, not what he puts in it.

    Chris, people like you, but you're going to blow it. Have some dignity, and learn how to be diplomatic. Be a man, take the doctor up on her offer. YOU are making your weight an issue now, and voters will not reward you for it.

    February 6, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  23. cbp

    Many of us understand just what the Governor is saying. It is not easy to lose weight and to change your life style. He is the only one who can make the decision to try to lose weight. We should be encouraging him. The fat jokes just have to stop. Even though he laughs about them and with them he still is the one who has to come to grips with his weight and how he can lost some of it.

    February 6, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. GailScott

    People need to lay off Christie. He's an intelligent man who knows what he's doing to his health. I'm not fat and I'm not a Republican - just someone who hates to see bullies act in the name of "doing good."

    February 6, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  25. Weight Watchers Meeting Through Double Doors

    The best line of the article: "Christie is widely thought to be considering a presidential run and has not ruled out that prospect." He's widely, alright!

    February 6, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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