Bill Clinton's former White House doctor who said Gov. Chris Chistie's weight makes her worry about him "dying in office" should he seek the presidency in 2016 "must be a genius," the New Jersey Republican told reporters today.
"A doctor in Arizona, who's 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 during a press conference in Sea Girt, N.J., according to New York CBS affiliate WCBS. "She should probably be the Surgeon General of the United States."
Dr. Connie Mariano, who directed the White House Medical Unit during Clinton's administration, voiced her concern one day after the famously straight-shooting Christie appeared on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" wielding a jelly donut and joking about being overweight - and hours after he insisted in another news conference that he's "making the best effort I can" to rein in his obesity.
"It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before he runs for office," Mariano told CNN. "I like Chris Christie a lot. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight."
Following the CNN package Tuesday night, Christie said, "My 12-year old son comes to me last night and says 'Dad, are you going to die?' I mean, come on.
"People who have a medical license, who have the privilege of having a medical license, should in my view conduct themselves more responsibly than that," the governor continued. "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'll have a conversation with her about that. Until that time, she should shut up."
Christie, who frequently tops Republican short lists for the 2016 presidential election, was pressed during a press conference about superstorm Sandy recovery efforts about his lighthearted approach to his weight on "The Late Show" the evening before.
"I'm making the best effort I can," he said. "And sometimes I'm successful, and other times I'm not. And sometimes periods of great success are followed by periods of great failure. And so that's just the way it's worked for me for probably the last 30 years of my life.
"I know people have concerns," Christie continued, but added that "up to 50 years old, I've been remarkably healthy. And my doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon, so believe me it's something that I've very conscious of.
"[I]n terms of people in the state being concerned about whether or not it prevents me from being able to do my job effectively, I think they've seen the results of that," he concluded. "I'm not going to be overly self-consumed about this, and nor should the people of the state be all that concerned about whether I can do my job."