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. Bea

    We live in a society that is geared to the young and thin. There is a lot of pressure to fit into an unrealistic standard. Having said that, Christie is not just a tad overweight, he is morbidly obese. It doesn't take a doctor to conclude that sooner or later he will have some major health problems. I think that he is in denial.

    February 7, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  2. For what it's worth

    When I see a person who is never sober, I know he or she has a drinking problem that will eventually ruin their health. People who shoot drugs into their veins or snort it up their nose are killing themselves. I can tell you this without a medical degree and feel pretty comfortable in telling people involved in such activities that I am concerned. One thing I always notice when I approach these people, they are always defensive, although they may joke about it they won't allow you to be concerned. Governor Christie may well be the best governor to ever hold office in New Jersey, but if he does die, it will mean the state suffers in the long run. Yes Mr Christie, you are overweight and all studies and all available information says it will lead to an early grave.. but go ahead and be defensive and call people names who are concerned for your health, just like the alcoholic or the drug addict.

    February 7, 2013 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  3. tina

    I am over weight. Trying very hard to lose. I am under my doctors care. I am no were as big as he is, he is three times the size I am. He could not be in good health if his doctor is telling him his time is running out.

    February 7, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  4. Indeigrl

    It's so obvious that Democrats are threatened by Christie. A white house doctor going after Christie? Inappropriate, obviously politically motivated. President Obama smokes, so he's about as likely as Christie to have a massive heart attack.

    February 7, 2013 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Err hello unbiased only the facts or boths sides of the argument CNN. Oooops big boo boo here .
    Since when has the medical status of anyone been a matter of media public record? There are very restrictive rules about what a doctor may discus about a registered patient.
    This lady if she respects patient/ doctor privacy has no right to pontificate On Christies health or unhealthyness, nor does she know what Christies own doctor is prescribing or recommending ( nor should she).
    She is a disgrace to the medical profession and so are CNN for making a story out of no proper or realistic medical
    facts to which you have no right to access in any case.
    Get off this subject, Its disgusting!!... oh might just deserve a place on AC 360 so called ridiculist!?

    February 7, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  6. Maximum bob

    Look down, Govenor Christie, those are not your shoes, it's your belt buckle. You know you have a problem, and it's not the media here, it's what you eat. Be defensive all you like, but who is going to vote for a 1/2 term President?

    February 7, 2013 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. sandy baby

    Jimmy Hofa is going to run for President? Oh yeah baby!

    February 7, 2013 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  8. FloydZepp

    Christie may have a combination of genetic propensity toward obesity – yet everytime I see him shove a donut in his maw I have to wonder.

    February 7, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  9. Marie MD

    Folks, christie came out a somewhat hero after Sandy and he can be pretty funny but look at his history as governor of NJ. Not pretty.
    As far as his obesity? I was trying to catch my breath as we were watching him on Letterman the other night because it seems that he has trouble breathing. The man needs to lose weight but we are probably talking surgery and lots of surgery for the extra skin. I know fat people who are healthier than skinny or normal weight people.

    February 7, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    I'm still wondering. What makes this grossly overweight, walking, crude talking, coronary ready to happen, look Presidential??? I remember so many people saying President Obama didn't look Presidential, but this guy does? And so many of you with your faux outrage, but calling the FLOTUS Moo-chelle, have the mitigated gall to be upset about a medical doctor speaking the truth about this obvious, overweight Tony Soprano clone.

    He won't make it much farther than the primaries, he is definitely not Presidential material, whether he drops weight or not. He's ok for NJ, but not the world. Definitely NOT Presidential material.

    February 7, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  11. David

    He's fat. His health is at risk. You don't need to be a doctor to see that. Her profession is a doctor. She was interviewed as a doctor and asked about him. She didn't discuss politics. He is a public figure who is under scrutiny. She was very generic and professional.

    February 7, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  12. EffortPA

    There is fat and there is obese. Christie is obese, no argument there. Christie even said: "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," Isn't that pretty much the same as to what Doctor Mariano said?

    February 7, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  13. Miss D

    How many obese 75 years olds do you see,? At the end of the article even Christie admits that his Dr. said his luck is running out. So how can he cliam that he is healthy. and what does doing a good job in N.J. have to do with it? I think the former W.H. Dr. was only trying to be helpful.

    February 7, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  14. TommytheT

    Amazing how some folks can not stay out of the spot light and keep their mouth shut about things they are not involved with or really have no details on. But than 24 hour a day PR machines for Mr Obama need to find anything they can to write about.

    February 7, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  15. rs1201

    Although, I agree with the doctor about Christi's weight, she should have been more discreet with her pronouncements. She obviously wanted publicity and notoriety. If she had been a respectable doctor, she would have contacted him privately and offered her services advising him that she was worried about him. She didn't...she spoke to reporters. She is indeed a hack!

    February 7, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  16. Bob

    Morbidly OBESE is the "new healthy" ??? Christie better pick a skinny VP, for back-up national insurance.

    February 7, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  17. Clarke

    Let Christie handle his own over weight problem. Christie seems to be the only one who is not worried about it, so let it go, it really is his problem, if it is a problem.

    February 7, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  18. ronvan

    FUNNY!! NOT: Being overweight is BAD. Being underweight is BAD. Smoking, BAD. Alcohol, BAD, Eating certain foods, BAD, Drugs, BAD. Medications, BAD. Not exercising, BAD. Having guns, BAD. Not having guns, BAD. You name it and we have attached some kind of label on it!

    February 7, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  19. kasi

    The bigger question is...what business is it of hers? What a shame that we have become a society that feels entitled to take down others based only upon what we see. Does she know Christie personally? Does she have access to his medical records and current treatment plans? Apparently not. Not only is her 'advice' misplaced and rude, it's unprofessional given her lack of familiarity with Christie. As a medical professional, she is certainly entitled to speak out against obesity, but she crossed the line when she made it personal.

    February 7, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    The real Chris Christie has re-emerged.

    February 7, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  21. 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. We both see the same doctor, and he's not concerned. I don't know Mr. Christie's health history and neither does this doctor. Perhaps she should stay quiet and stop judging a book by it's cover.

    February 7, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  22. Edward

    He would never be considered in Canada. Mind you, he most likely would not be fat if he lived in Canada. In order to prevent the expense of his future weight related issues, healthcare in Canada would offer to remove a part of his stomach. Why should all tax payers be responsible to pay for his lack of control, over indulgence and addiction? When a man makes clear that he cannot control himself; his desires, his actions his appitite... then he should not be given control over a city, state or country. Governor Christie has a control issue and is disqualified from office until he can prove he is not "out of control".

    February 7, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  23. Doctor Watson

    Apparently this doctor skipped the ethics class – or did she get her degree from a box of Cracker Jack? Maybe she used the Magic Eight Ball for her Diagnosis...

    February 7, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  24. LisaP

    People need to lay off Christie. He's an intelligent man who knows what he's doing to his health. Madny of the complainers are bullies who act in the name of "doing good."

    February 7, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  25. Fat is Fat

    No one is "judging him" a first graded could tell you he is fat, its simply a fact. Any physician (and mountains of data) can tell you being morbidly obese is a sever health risk. Couple that with the stress of political office and it seems "ticking time-bomb" is an apt assessment. Doc was right on.

    February 7, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
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