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. Clwyd

    With all the hot air also coming out of Christi that makes him a real health problem!

    February 6, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. Rick Springfield

    Can't always judge a person from looks on health. I've outlived many of the so-called "healthy" people in my school generation. My grandparents on both sides lived well into their 90's. My grandmother on mom's side lived to be 98 and was your typical short stubby build. I can recall quite a few bike riding, jogging professionals in my town who keeled over on heart defects and strokes. Now personally, I need to loose 30 more pounds. I was 30 pounds heavier but feel much better when I exercise now. My dialy goals are rather low as I only do 3 miles brisk walking each day. But if you look at me you may say I am unhealthy. But I tell people I briskly walk 3 miles each day and they say, "I can't do that without a lot of problelms."

    February 6, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. jdm

    while the Dr. didn't really have an appropriate platform to call Christie out, any man at his age, but Christie would be 54 at the time of a potential run for the presidency, and a morbidly obese man in his mid-50's definitely has a very, very real chance of dieing or if not dieing being in a position where he is an ineffecitve president, besides if he can't control his own weight it shows his lack of discipline.

    February 6, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Kim

    The issue is not about whether Christie is obese. The issue is that no ethical physician should EVER make comments publicly about any person by name. It doesnt matter if he is a public person . It doesnt matter if she used to be the white house physician. It doesnt matter if she meant well. She was wrong. Extremely unprofessional. She can make any public comments she wishes about the health risks of obesity and the need to lose weight, but a physician never calls someone publicly by name without that person's permission. She was wrong. I know what I am talking about. I too am a former US Navy physician, board certified in internal medicine and now in private practice. She needs to stop and think, then apologize, and conduct herself according to the principles that guide our profession, respectful and concerned about the needs of others and mindful of personal dignity and privacy. She was over the line.

    February 6, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. Bruce

    the doctor should check the size of the fool that runs the DHS currently

    February 6, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. CJPA

    Gov. Christie should talk to Mike Huckabee about how his "plan" worked. He had a similar problem and addressed it. Being defensive only indicates denial of his situation and the addiction to food that he apparently has. I think he would be a great candidate for gastric bypass and should seriously consider it, along with therapy. Even his children are worried about him and don't want to lose their Dad early to heart disease. Enough jokes – it's no longer funny!

    February 6, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  7. txan

    Sounds like Christie is in denial. Maybe he's just a fat fool after all.

    February 6, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  8. markiejoe

    You absolutely don't need first-hand knowledge to know that Christie is not healthy, despite what he claims. The man is morbidly obese, and there is a long list of health hazards that go along with that, most of which Christie probably hasn't even heard of, let alone considered.

    February 6, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Nobody gets to predict if or when someone is going to die. That doctor was out of line and she should shut up!

    February 6, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. Bob

    Yeah, he's fat. And yeah, it's an issue.

    But what the heck was she doing on CNN? She's not his doctor. She's not a regular CNN correspondent who is periodically asked medical questions. She just pops up to call someone out on national TV? And then she runs right back to TV after the guy has a private telephone conversation with her? She can say she's a Republican and say she wants him to run all she likes; by her actions you can tell she has an agenda. I'd not trust this "doctor" to prescribe cough medicine.

    Now, CNN, that's a different story. So obviously bias in all things political. Having helped Obama to victory this year, they're already looking at who the biggest challenger is for 2016 and starting to work on him. Let's see this much attention given to Clinton or Biden's advanced years and Ms. Clinton's health issues. No? Of course not, because that wouldn't serve their political agenda.

    February 6, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  11. Peace

    Chris Christie, we love you and we want to see you in a healthy state. Stop whatever you are doing and deal with your health first. It is useless to serve people and not serving yourself. We are very much concerned about your healthy, like it or hate it.

    February 6, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  12. Lardbuckets for President

    william howard taft got stuck in a bathtub and we get a nice ditty
    bring back the fatties for president

    February 6, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  13. Hillcrester

    The last sentence says, in essense, Christie agrees with the MD he publicly disagreed with. Do we want " Confused for President"?

    February 6, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. Grim Reaper

    A fat guy that's not jolly.

    February 6, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  15. rh

    He's my governor, as it were, but I am more concerned about him having a family rather than what would happen to NJ, or the US if he were President, for that matter, if he passed away.

    Chris, do it for your kids. It stinks, it's difficult, but even if you can drop 20 lbs., it will help you be able to live to see your grandchildren. Scr#$%&#!* politics, it is your life and your family's life.

    February 6, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  16. jakinak

    The demonstrated inability to control his own weight raises quite reasonable questions about his ability to control the most powerful nation on the planet

    February 6, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  17. faretail

    The doctor was right and her suggestion was good for his health. Yeah, Christie if you don't want her help then why don't you order diet planed dvd or sign up to join excercise club or call Jullian.

    February 6, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  18. mike mathwig

    The PROBLEM is he's a republican. He's also rdiculously funny looking and puffed up with himself,(pun additional).

    February 6, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  19. steve

    I feel sorry for the man. It must be tough living in his body. And Mariano didn't say anything that he already doesn't know, so she should have kept her mouth shut.

    February 7, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  20. Quackery2

    My doc has my medical records and history, knows everything about me, but won't make any comments over the phone. I always have to go there to be examines.

    Why do some doctors think they know it all and have seen it all? If one has no first hand knowledge and relies on statistics, they should just be quiet until a patient rattles their cage and asks for their opinion.

    February 7, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  21. Amanda

    Honestly, I don't think this is anyone's business. And shame on the doctor for going after publicity at the expense of another person's feelings!

    February 7, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  22. Capone

    I find it fascinating that so many governors believe that their ablity to handle the job of being the top executive for a single state means that they can handle being the "most powerful man in the world".

    All you have to do is look at the before and after pictures of every man who has served as President in the past few decades to see the physical toll that job takes on you. Stressful is not even an accurate description.

    The population of New Jersey is about 8.8 million. The population of the United States is 34 times larger. Each state has their own issues, their own laws, etc. Now, add on top of that the problems that affect the U.S. from around the world.

    So, yes, if Chris Christie has Presidential aspirations then his weight should be considered and could potentially pose a problem.

    February 7, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  23. Linda Higgins

    As a medical professional, I find it horrifying that a renowned physician would stoop to prognosticating about a patient they've never examined, especially if that person is as public figure as Gov. Christie. Her comments were rude and inappropriate. She might be right, but it was none of her business and wasn't the least bit professional.

    February 7, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  24. bankrupt1

    i just gave you my best secrets for losing weight (lost 103 lbs...you learn stuff), but cnn ate it. it didn't show up. its very long.

    February 7, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  25. joe2sixpacks

    How long has he been that fat? The plan that he and his doctors have has not worked so far. What's the urgency if he is so healthy. Being bombastic and calling people names is not presidential. Termprament matters at the Presidential level. Looks like his getting his extra minutes of fame with his donut stunt has backfired.

    February 7, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
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