Former Clinton-era White House physician Scottsdale-based Dr. Connie Mariano urged 50-year-old New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to deal with his obesity or face a possible heart attack or stroke should he decide to run for the presidency in 2016. When former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Tea Party favorite House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Aug. 12, 2012, moderate Republicans groaned. Romney completely miscalculated picking Ryan hoping to capture the conservative vote not thrilled with Mitt. Moderates, independents and crossover Democrats hoped Romney would pick Christie. Unlike one-size-fits-all GOP politicians, Christie isn’t afraid to speak his mind even when it comes to complimenting President Barack Obama for helping New Jersey in the wake of hurricane Sandy. Republicans growled at Christie for praising Obama Oct. 30, right before the Nov. 6 election.
Known for his obesity, the 50-year-old Christie has been a media magnet, drawing large crowds where he goes. Picking Ryan was a huge blunder for the 65-year-old Romney who needed more support among independents than pandering to Ryan’s Tea Party base. Speaking on CNN Feb. 6 a day after Christie appeared on CBS’ “Late-Show” with Dave Letterman, Mariano said she supported Christie’s future bid for president yet raised his weight problems. “It’s almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office,” said Mariano, knowing full well about the recent slew of research showing that obese people don’t necessarily have a lower life expectancy. A recent Cornell University study indicated that obese people do not necessarily have more health problems when compared with their non-obese counterparts. Mariano’s public remarks about Christie’s obesity prompted the New Jersey governor to raise his voice at her.
Christie, who jokingly wolfed down a donut on Letterman’s show, said he’ll deal with his obesity on his own terms. Christie objected to Mariano’s comments knowing full-well that there are significant health risks to obesity, among the most prevalent are cardiovascular and orthopedic problems. “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,” said Christie. “Until that time, she should shut up,” said Christie putting Mariano on notice that he didn’t appreciate her public remarks. Calling Mariano “just another hack that wants her five minutes on TV,” Christie rejected her comments, touting his low cholesterol and blood pressure, insisting he was a healthy fat guy on Letterman’s show. While Mariano worked at the White House for presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, she’s now a Scottsdale-doctor in private practice.
Mariano admitted to receiving an angry phone call from Christie, telling her to mind her own business. Whatever Mariano’s personal opinions about Christie, speculating about his body type or health is unprofessional and attention-getting. Calling Mariano after her CNN interview Feb. 6, Christie “yelled” at her for shooting off her mouth. “It was essentially the tone of the press conference only louder,” said Mariano, saying she was reconsidering supporting him for president. If Mariano really supported Christie, she wouldn’t raise issues regarding his obesity. New Jersey voters didn’t hesitate to elect Christie with all his baggage to become New Jersey’s 55th governor Jan. 19, 2010. His brazen style and support of Romney pushed Christie to the front of Mitt’s VP pick. There was real surprise Aug 12, 2012 when Romney picked Ryan for his running mate. Christie had the kind of national appeal that might have helped Mitt run a more competitive ticket.
Christie showed his independence when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey Oct, 29, 2012. Criticized by fellow Republicans after praising Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy, Christie showed he could give praise where it was due. Only one week before the Nov. 6 election, NewsCorp media mogul Rupert Murdoch blasted Christie for helping Obama get elected. Christie spoke critically of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who seemed to drag his feet on passing federal disaster relief for states like New Jersey. His brazen approach rankle some Republicans, leading Romney to look elsewhere for his VP pick. Christie’s independent streak is precisely what plays well nationally, tired of Washington’s divided politics. While it’s a long way to the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Christie is no company man when it comes to speaking his mind. Slapping Mariano publicly only reminds Christie’s backers that he speaks his mind no matter what.
Raising the latest flap over Christie’s weight, Mariano inserted herself into an ordinarily dull post-election news cycle. Mariano’s cracks about Christie’s weight don’t hurt his political ambitions, only make him more endearing to potential voters. When he appeared on Letterman’s show Feb 6, Christie showed why he’s got presidential legs, poking fun at himself in front of an approving audience. Saying he’ll deal with his weight issues on “his own terms,” Christie served notice that he’s comfortable inside his own skin. “The way he’s acted lately, I don’t think so. He wasn’t very nice to me,” Mariano told KTVK. “Is this presidential? I’ll have to think about that. Is this a presidential way to behave,” said Mariano in a classic tale of the “pot calling the kettle black.” There’s nothing more unprofessional than listening to a licensed doctor spout off on topics she knows little about. Speculating about Christie’s weight doesn’t speak to any of Christie’s known medical issues.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.