Chris Christie And The Weight Of The Presidency

This post[1] originally appeared on Slate[2].

Chris Christie underwent lap band surgery over President’s Day weekend because the three-day weekend gave him time to recuperate, and because no decision he makes can be free of some connection to the presidency. The New Jersey governor checked in for the weight-loss procedure under an assumed name and he was out later that Saturday. He only told his chief of staff. He informed the rest of his staff yesterday–along with the New York Post[3].

According to Christie, the procedure, which restricts the amount of food he can ingest, was a personal health decision. After turning 50, he worried that he might not live a full life on his current trajectory. According to an aide, his doctor told him pointedly that it was an issue that would catch up with him soon. Since last fall, he has been contemplating the surgery. Responding to hurricane Sandy got in the way and delayed the procedure.

Play Video

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has lap-band surgery


Play Video

Christie: My weight loss surgery is “nobody else’s business”


There is no reason to think that personal health was not Christie’s driving motivation, but it also helps his presidential chances if he decides to run. If a candidate is any good at all, they endure a long period where the moves they make to position themselves for the presidency are indistinguishable from those they would make for other reasons. That’s true more broadly of Christie’s re-election campaign and his second term. Running as a can-do politician who can hammer out hard compromises with Democrats is both his pitch to New Jersey and his pitch to the nation.

There is now a weight-loss tradition in the run for the presidency. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that if people saw him lose 40 pounds it would either mean that he was running for president or he had cancer. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made his weight-loss the foundation of his campaign in 2008. He dropped 110 lbs[6], and pounded away on creaky treadmills all across Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to show that he was keeping up. When Huckabee started to fill out the talk show host’s chair in 2011, it seemed clear that his presidential ambitions had taken a back seat to his gastronomic ones.

Christie has always treated his weight with the bluntness he applies to everything else. In the 2009 gubernatorial race, his opponent John Corzine ran an ad attacking Christie for “throwing his weight around” as a U.S. Attorney[7]. The spot featured Christie disembarking from a suburban and accentuated the undulations of his locomotion. Christie shot back: “Man up and say I’m fat.” David Letterman has made Christie’s weight a constant source of comedy, so Christie went on Late Night and brought a donut[8]. Christie has said the issue is “fair game,” but he did react angrily to Michael Kinsley’s argument that Christie’s weight made him unfit for office.[9] “The people who pretend to be serious commentators who wrote about this are among the most ignorant people I’ve ever heard in my life,” Christie said[10].

Presidential candidates have to be careful about admitting weaknesses. It’s a shame because the good ones are the products of their struggles as much as their triumphs. But in the modern campaign you’re only allowed to admit that you’re too humble or too generous–faults that are actually attributes. Christie’s weakness was there for all to see. If he runs, the issue would be a distraction–talking about it on Oprah only gets you so far[11]. It’s still OK to make fat jokes in America, but it wouldn’t just be the comedians talking about it. If Christie decided to run, you can bet that cable television news stations would have used the Kinsley argument to air endless chin pulling discussions about the meaning of Christie’s weight. The mix of politics, weight-loss, and self-help would be irresistible. If only a religious angle could be found, everyone would get a bonus at the end of the year.

At 5 feet 11 inches Christie is the exact height of our fattest president, William Howard Taft, and Christie was on track to surpass Taft’s top weight of 335 pounds. In the age before television, it was easier to be large (just as it was easier to have bad teeth, as this picture of Presidents Taft and Wilson demonstrates[12]). Taft’s admirers equated his size with power. “It is good to see Big Bill Taft enter a room after a number of other men. He reminds you of a great battleship following the smaller vessels, coming into port with her brass bright and plowing deep,” swooned newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane.

But Taft also endured a lot of jokes. During a debate over whether the president should have an official automobile, a member of Congress said[13], “The incoming president proposes to abandon horses for reasons that the gentleman well knows: He does not wish to violate the law against cruelty to animals.” Taft, who reportedly once got stuck in a theater chair and a White House bathtub, joked about his weight as Christie does. After he lost the election, Yale offered him a Chair of Law at the university. Taft replied that a chair would be too small, but “it might be all right” if they could offer a “Sofa of Law.”

The last modern president to struggle with weight was Bill Clinton whose fondness for junk food made him the butt of jokes and offered a polite way to talk about his other appetites. He was most famously lampooned in a Saturday Night Live skit[14] which portrayed a trip to MacDonald’s in which Clinton meets voters and eats all their food. His opponent Jerry Brown had fun with it in the 1992 primary. The Los Angeles Times asked readers to offer tips to help him thin down. Columnists offered views on the issue. Family Circle ran an article designed to help him get healthy. In the White House, Hillary Clinton enlisted heart doctor Dean Ornish to revamp the presidential menu. They replaced hamburgers with soy burgers and served stir fry vegetables with tofu and salmon with vegetables. It didn’t work: Clinton gained 20 pounds. Clinton is now in trim shape. His heart scare and a new vegan diet have combined to make him look leaner than ever before.

From now until Christie makes his ultimate decision about running for president, he will have to endure punditry about two kinds of numbers: his poll numbers and his weight. This too is a distraction, but on the whole, it at least allows him to play both the role of Everyman struggling with weight as well as a problem solver doing something about it. The lap band surgery, according to one source[15], takes about three years for the patient to reach his or her lowest weight. That means it will be fully paying off just before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. Another coincidence, no doubt.


  1. ^ This post (www.slate.com)
  2. ^ Slate (www.slate.com)
  3. ^ along with the New York Post (www.nypost.com)
  4. ^ Play Video N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has lap-band surgery (www.cbsnews.com)
  5. ^ Play Video Christie: My weight loss surgery is “nobody else’s business” (www.cbsnews.com)
  6. ^ dropped 110 lbs (www.marieclaire.com)
  7. ^ ran an ad attacking Christie for “throwing his weight around” as a U.S. Attorney (www.youtube.com)
  8. ^ Late Night and brought a donut (livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com)
  9. ^ argument that Christie’s weight made him unfit for office. (www.bloomberg.com)
  10. ^ said (www.nationaljournal.com)
  11. ^ talking about it on Oprah only gets you so far (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  12. ^ picture of Presidents Taft and Wilson demonstrates (www.doctorzebra.com)
  13. ^ said (www.doctorzebra.com)
  14. ^ Saturday Night Live skit (www.nbc.com)
  15. ^ according to one source (www.bariatric-surgery-source.com)

Original Story Here


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  1. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

      • HealthNut
      • May 10, 2013

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

  2. Reply

    What Are Some Weight Loss Tips And Ways To Appear Thinner? I am a teenager with a problem and I need help so please help me… I’m  desperate. I have Lupus and when it flares up I have to take prednisone which causes weight gain. I want a higher self esteem. Please, can someone give me some weight loss tips like high calorie burning excersices, health food, some sort of plan and also tips to appear thinner. Thanks!

      • HealthNut
      • May 10, 2013

      There are some good tips listed in the answers, here are a few more. Recent studies have shown that having eggs for breakfast will increase energy during the day and act as a natural weight suppressant. Have listed an article on using eggs as a weight loss food. Tracking your daily food intake and daily exercise will help a lot in determining how much you are really eating and working off each day. Have also noted a article that list a few easy ways to work exercise into your routine.

  3. Reply

    Can Someone Give Me Some Weight Loss Tips? I do gymnastics and dance. I am a female, 13 yrs, 5’4 and about 130 lbs. I feel gross. I at least want to be 100. I am planning on running in the morning along with an excersize video, at school we run for 5 minutes every day, in the evenings I will take my dogs for a walk, and doing gymnastics/dance stuff downstairs. Can anybody give me any weight loss tips.

      • HealthNut
      • May 10, 2013

      Drink more and more water and don’t eat oily and junk food . Walking, gymnastic and dancing are good way to reduce weight. You will achieve your desired weight in some days.. Keep going..

  4. Reply

    What Are Some Good Work Out Routines And Weight Loss Tips For A 16 Year Old Male? I’m a 16 year old male and I am about 6foot 2 and weight around 185-190lbs. I was wondering what a good work out routine I can start and any good weight loss tips?

      • HealthNut
      • May 10, 2013

      Just get into the habit of swimming every day or two and stick to it.

      Also for a normal (non drastic) diet that works you might want to see:

  5. Reply

    I Am 5foot 11 Inches Tall And Weight 230lb. Can Any Body Give Me Some Weight Loss Tips Or Diets? Hi. I am a 15 year old kid, who is 5’11, 230lb. And I need some weight loss tips before school starts. I work out alot. I play high school football, and competitive baseball in the summer. During football I lose all of my weight, but after that I gain all of my weight for baseball season. Please HELP!!! What can I do?

      • HealthNut
      • May 10, 2013

      No fats , no sugars and no junk food plus all the exercise you can manage ,

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