CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

National News

May 10, 2013

Christie weight-loss step may be key to a presidential campaign

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's acknowledgment of having secret stomach surgery may reassure voters who've wondered whether he's fit to be president.

The governor, who has struggled with excess pounds for most of his adult life, told reporters in Newark Tuesday that he had the procedure Feb. 16 for the benefit of himself, his wife, Mary Pat, and their children. He denied it was a political move.

"Just because I have a public office and I have some measure of notoriety doesn't mean that my feelings about my family and my concerns about their future are any different than yours," Christie said. "I did it because I want to try to put myself, as I get older, in the best position I can be to spend as much great time with them as I possibly can."

The 50-year-old governor is running to win a second term in November. He turned down fundraisers' overtures to embark on a 2012 presidential campaign less than two years ago, saying, "Now is not my time." Christie hasn't ruled out a 2016 bid.

"He has to realize that it's a lot easier to run for president if you can actually run," said Matthew Hale, who teaches politics at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. "It also has to be in the back of his mind that the physical requirements of walking through Iowa county fairs and things like that really are not easy."

Christie, who's about 6 feet tall, hasn't publicly disclosed his weight and didn't say how much he may have lost since February. He said he considered the matter personal, and his family "is not thrilled" that the surgery, first reported by the New York Post, became public.

The governor said he used a false name when he checked in for the 40-minute surgical procedure at New York University Langone Medical Center's Weight Management Program in Manhattan. The operation was covered by his state health insurance, he said. He wouldn't say what his out-of-pocket costs were.

He went into the hospital at 7:30 a.m. and was home in Mendham at 5 p.m., he said. He didn't transfer his state powers to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

Christie said he spoke with coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets before having the surgery. Ryan underwent the procedure in 2010, performed by surgeon George Fielding, and lost almost a third of his weight, according to the Post. Christie had Fielding do his operation.

A telephone call to the doctor's office was referred to Craig Andrews, a hospital spokesman, who declined to comment. Jets spokesman Bruce Speight didn't respond to a voice message and email seeking comment.

"It is a long-term health issue for me, and that is the basis on which I made the decision," Christie said Tuesday. "It's not a career issue."

Physical fitness for presidents and candidates for the office has been stressed by advisers since at least the administration of Gerald R. Ford, the Republican who replaced Richard M. Nixon in the White House in 1974. Ford, caught on camera as he stumbled on the Air Force One steps, was mocked for "being a klutz," said Peter Woolley, who teaches politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, N.J.

"The White House countered and said, 'What are you talking about?'" Woolley said by telephone. "This guy's an athlete. He was a Division I football player."

Al Gore, Democrat Bill Clinton's vice president, and Mike Huckabee, the Republican former Arkansas governor, both lost pounds before campaigning unsuccessfully for president. Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who survived torture in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp and three bouts with skin cancer, was dogged by health questions before Democrat Barack Obama beat him in the 2008 presidential race.

On Feb. 4, less than two weeks before Christie had his surgery, he appeared on CBS Corp.'s "Late Show with David Letterman," munching a doughnut as a gag. He told the comedian that he had normal cholesterol and sugar levels in his blood, calling himself "basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life."

 His comments led a former White House physician, Connie Mariano, to tell CNN that the governor's weight put him at risk of heart attack, stroke or death. Christie responded by calling the doctor a "hack" and telling her to "shut up" because she hadn't examined him.

For Christie, the prime political benefit now is that he "owns and controls" the story of his weight, said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J.

"Why give voters fodder for questions of your ability to serve, whether that means your physical fitness or ability to keep yourself under control?" Murray said by telephone. "You can't get around the fact that being overweight raises questions in people's minds, whether that's right or wrong."

Christie's weight hasn't been an issue to most New Jersey voters recently. In a Quinnipiac University poll released March 26, 64 percent of 1,129 of those asked said they were comfortable with the governor's girth.

 In July 2011, Christie went to a hospital for emergency treatment of his chronic asthma and told reporters when he was discharged that his weight "exacerbates everything."

More than 500 million people worldwide are obese, according to the World Health Organization. About 200,000 Americans undergo weight-loss surgery each year, and roughly a third choose gastric banding, involving small rubber devices that constrict part of the stomach.

              

1
Text Only
National News
  • Fort Hood (UPDATED) Officials: 4 dead, including gunman, at Fort Hood

    A gunman opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood in an attack that left four dead, including the shooter, law enforcement officials said.
    One of the officials, citing official internal U.S. Justice Department updates, said 14 others were hurt. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information by name.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • High School Stabbings 4 students seriously hurt in Pa. school stabbings

    A student armed with a knife went on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including four students who suffered serious wounds, authorities said.

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Obit Ultimate Warrior Former pro wrestler Ultimate Warrior dies at 54

    James Hellwig, better known as former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, has died, the WWE said. He was 54.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_amazonfiretv.jpg Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

    Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Washington Mudslide Death toll in Washington mudslide rises to 30

    As medical examiners painstakingly piece together the identities and lives of the 30 people known killed when a mudslide wiped out a small Washington community, one mystery troubles them.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Fort Hood Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment

    An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court Campaign Big donors may give even more under court’s ruling

    The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday erasing a long-standing limit on campaign donations will allow a small number of very wealthy donors to give even more than is currently the case, according to students of the complex campaign finance system, and could strengthen the establishment in both parties.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former McDonald's store managers say they withheld employees' wages

    Two former McDonald's store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees' wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down.

    April 2, 2014

  • Fact Checker: 'Birth control' for something other than family planning?

    "When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it's outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous."

    April 1, 2014