New Jersey's Christie fires back at doctor over weight comments

NEW YORK Wed Feb 6, 2013 9:04pm EST

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claps while giving his State of the State address in the assembly chamber in Trenton, New Jersey, January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claps while giving his State of the State address in the assembly chamber in Trenton, New Jersey, January 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responded angrily on Wednesday to a former White House physician's comment that he could die in office if he does not lose weight, calling the doctor a "hack" for offering advice without examining him.

Connie Mariano, a doctor in the White House medical unit from 1992 to 2001, said in an interview on CNN that Christie, a blunt-spoken Republican who is seen as a strong contender if he decides to run for president in 2016, risks a heart attack or a stroke if he does not slim down.

"It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office," Mariano said.

Asked about the comments on Wednesday, Christie, who has spoken openly about his struggle to lose weight, said Mariano was out of line.

"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. She must be a genius," Christie said, adding: "My children saw that."

He called Mariano "just another hack who wants five minutes on TV."

Mariano's comments came after Christie appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and poked fun at his own size - producing a donut while Letterman was mid-joke.

"I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life," Christie said.

But Mariano, who helped former President Bill Clinton during his White House years, said her advice was not partisan.

"I'm a Republican. I like Chris Christie. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight," Mariano said. "I'm a physician more than I'm a Democrat or Republican. And I'm worried about this man dying in office."

In a follow-up interview on CNN on Wednesday, Mariano said she and Christie had spoken by phone.

"The words gracious and appreciative don't come to mind," she said, adding that Christie had asked her not to share the specifics of their conversation.

"You don't have to be a doctor to look at him and see that he has a problem with weight," she said. "I have patients who suffer with obesity, and it is not a laughing matter."

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Andre Grenon, Cynthia Johnston and Paul Simao)

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Comments (27)
Flayer wrote:
And Christie goes to war with yet another Republican (even if he’s absolutely correct). How does he plan on winning the Republican primary with the record he’s racking up? We already have a president who hates the USA, vows to undermine the Constitution even after swearing (on multiple Bibles) to support it. Do we need a Republican candidate who hates Republicans now? A more gracious answer would have been thanks for your concern. Period. Don’t forget with Obamacare the government WILL be in our most private business and health…from 2500 miles or more!

Feb 07, 2013 12:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
bates148 wrote:
Folks should be more worried about our current president. The man was a chain smoker for decades.

Feb 07, 2013 1:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
DaddyBruce wrote:
Well, I think it’s a bit early for the DNC and their accomplices in the media to think about undermining a Republican candidate’s run for president in 2016, but then again….

Feb 07, 2013 1:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
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