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. pa

    we in the business call christie job security

    February 6, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  2. James

    Not sure what Christie means by hack but she should keep those obviously charged political comments to herself and DA Obama–

    February 6, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. Ted

    The Doctor was acting properly and professionally. Wake up Christie

    February 6, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  4. Bruce Rubin

    Christie always has a look on his face like he just ate 13 boxes of twinkies and a 45 pound salami

    February 6, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. cbanks

    As their own Dr Gupta said, it is possible for someone to be overweight and healthy, just as it's possible for someone to be of what is considered to be a normal weight and be unhealthy. I'm not a republican, but I do like this guy.

    February 6, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  6. ted

    Thin people die of heart attacks just like obese people do. thin people can have high blood pressure and high cholesterol just like obese people do. Get off Christie's back on this and take care of YOUR health.

    February 6, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The thing is that Christie's health is a possible issue. She has more medical knowledge than Christie does any day. His policies should also be a problem. There have been many attempts to pull back public support for the poor and needy with no obvious attempts to see what good those programs do.

    @Sniffit - you have great points there.

    February 6, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  8. RandyTravis

    It makes you a bigot to realize that being obese is unhealthy? Chow down Victoria.

    February 6, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Dont matter

    How can anyone believe this guy is healthy? I guess the truth hurts. You do not need to be e doctor to know that Christie is unhealthy.

    February 6, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  10. dt

    Perhaps while well meant, the physician should have kept her thoughts to herself. I cannot imagine making a comment like that to anyone, whether or not they are in public office. Mr. Christie is absolutely entitled to his privacy with respect to family and health issues. If he were to seek other public office (he is pretty well liked now where he is – even by the democratic President) then voters can choose based upon whatever they want. Leave the guy alone.

    February 6, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  11. geeworker

    but why him, their are plenty of governors, congress and senators that appear to have a health related weight issue why make a comment on him? could be that he may run for office at the same time her dear friend Clinton? Her assessment will put the seed of doubt for party to nominate/endorse his bid for office

    February 6, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  12. Grant

    The question of obesity (as it is measured by BMI) and mortality has been studied extensively. There are several large studies that suggest that morbidly obese patients (those with BMI >30) have an average life expectancy 2-10 years less than age matched patients with normal BMIs. While we can't predict the future, it is fair to say that Christie's weight is a significant risk factor for premature death.

    February 6, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  13. Zwei Stein

    Who asked her? I mean, as if he needed her to tell him that. If she wants to give a free medical opinion, then she should do so in private.

    February 6, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  14. CraigRB

    The Governor is totally aware of his situation and he's going to do something about it and I hope he does because this moderate Democrat really likes him. The best of health to you Mr. Christie.

    February 6, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  15. DrPhil

    The fatties are getting testy.

    February 6, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  16. noillusion

    Everyone's luck is going to run out relatively soon. So simma down nah.

    February 6, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  17. Marc from Florida

    As a physician, I find Mariano's comments probably well intentioned but mindless. Christie is well aware of his weight problem and a dificult one it is. I wish him the best in dealing with obesity. He has the resources and the motivation. I will bet on him to be successful in his weight loss efforts. This doctor should apologize to Cristie's family and accept the fact that her comments were inappropriate.

    February 6, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  18. Richard Miller

    Gov., listen to the lady. You are fat and you are killing yourself by being so.

    February 6, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. triple b

    I may not agree with his politics, but I am with him on this. Yes, we get it – the guy is overweight, he knows it and seems to want to do something about it, so let's stop judging and diagnosing him. He has enough to worry about – Sandy recovery and other issues, as well as attacks from his own party because he treats the President civilly and respectfully and at least appears to try and work with others who may not share his views. How refreshing, a Republican somewhat willing to be his own man and not knuckle under to the far right nut jobs.

    February 6, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Dr. Connie Mariano's clinical theory dose not apply to Governors from New Jersey !

    My biggest feat is he might choke on a cannoli " , Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo (or in the Sicilian language cannolu), meaning "little tube".

    February 6, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  21. mach6

    Dr. Mariano has neither the accoutability nor the responsibility to comment on Gov. Christie's weight. Yes, it concerns me as well. When you are busy and in the limelight, reducing is not easy. Obsesity is a risk factor. Dr. Mariano should know however, that the particle size of the LDL choloesterol components ( lipoproteins) in his or anyone's bloodstream are a more important determinant of risk This means that with bad genes you can be thin and have a greater risk for coronary atery disease than a heavy person. Also, ther e must be some ethical rule about doctors commenting on peopke who are not their pateints. We cannot count on the media to filter anything. They have too much space to fill and will grab at anything. Dr. Mariano should know better. her comments were personal and uncalled for.

    February 6, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  22. ann wilson

    If Christie had to stop and eat a donut during an interview, he is obsessed with food. I knew a woman who brought
    a whole half of a pizza in her purse during a short seminar, because she was afraid she would get hungry before the
    lunch break. That woman became morbidly obese. I'm a democrat and I think Christie is basically a good guy, but
    he had better turn this thing around. We haven't had an obese person in the White House since way, way before

    February 6, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. Rob

    Christie is in denial. He is also very ignorant of simple principles of personal health. What a poor role model for his state and for the country.

    February 6, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Diane

    How does she expect it to be constructive when she does it through the press? Doctors' advice is something which is meant to be given in a confidential setting, in a tactful, non-judgmental way, after a proper examination from a doctor you've actually consulted. It's not meant to be unsolicited advice from a doctor you've never met, given through the press in a way that can invoke public ridicule and judgmentalism over a stigmatised issue. It wasn't constructive at all, it was unprofessional and not something that any patient should have to put up with.

    February 6, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. Clwyd

    Christi is a walking cholesterol control problem!

    February 6, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
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