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National News

January 17, 2014

Five myths about Chris Christie

(Continued)

YouTube doesn't lie. The governor, ice cream cone in hand, did go after a heckler on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, where Snooki and The Situation once rumbled. He did call an assemblyman "numbnuts" and an assemblywoman a "jerk." I've been a target, too. When I asked in December about a mysterious traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge, Christie laughed me off, sarcastically joking that he set up the traffic cones himself, before talking over my follow-up.

But the governor has more than one bullet in the rhetorical chamber, and he knows when to keep the gun in the holster. After the release of those bombshell documents indicating that his closest advisers ordered the traffic jam, Christie talked at a news conference for nearly two hours and didn't yell at a single reporter. He has steadfastly avoided questions on controversial policy matters, such as the defunding of Obamacare and immigration reform. Asked about the pope's criticism of trickle-down economics - fraught territory for the most high-profile Catholic Republican in the country - Christie kept his mouth shut: "No reaction."

At the same time, he has Clintonian charm. He handles schoolchildren better than any politician I've seen, and he makes adults cry at his town hall meetings when he recounts his dying mother's words to him: "There is nothing left unsaid." Christie is emotional. Dismissing him as an out-of-control bully misses the full picture.

3. He's unhealthy.

When Christie said he first found out about the Bridgegate emails after his morning workout, it provided yet more fodder for the endless snark about his weight.

But a letter Christie released from his cardiologist - after a challenge from his fit gubernatorial opponent last fall - showed that he doesn't have serious health issues. His hypertension is under control, and he "has adapted a healthy lifestyle," exercising four days a week. His cholesterol clocks in at 139, which is borderline high, but his blood pressure is 110/70, which is good. He was hospitalized one muggy day in July 2011, but he came out a few hours later and took all our questions about his long-term asthma.

As far as weight, it's safe to say he's dropping pounds. Since his lap-band surgery nearly a year ago, he has looked noticeably slimmer each successive month. "You look good, governor," New Jerseyans tell him. "I'm trying," he says.

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