TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie, R, called a former White House doctor who said he was dangerously overweight a "hack" and said she should "shut up" unless she examines him.
Christie was responding to a CNN report that Connie Mariano, who worked for former President Bill Clinton, said she was worried that the governor may have a heart attack or stroke. "I'm worried about this man dying in office," she said in the interview.
"You don't have to be a doctor to see that he is obese," Mariano said Wednesday by telephone from her office, the Center for Executive Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I'm not a hack. If you look up my resume, I've been in the White House for nine years. I'm a retired Navy rear admiral. I'm board-certified in internal medicine."
Christie, who is seeking a second term this year and hasn't ruled out a 2016 presidential bid, said the interview worried his four children. He said Mariano was seeking her "five minutes on television."
"I find it fascinating that a doctor in Arizona — who's never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records and knows nothing about my family history — could make a diagnosis from 2,400 miles away," Christie said Wednesday in Sea Girt. "She must be a genius. She should probably be the surgeon general of the United States, I suspect."
Christie, who has struggled with his size since he stopped playing school sports, has said his weight doesn't slow him and shouldn't bar him from seeking the presidency.
During a Monday appearance on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman," Christie said his cholesterol and blood-sugar levels were both within normal ranges during a physical exam ahead of his 50th birthday in September.
"I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life," he told Letterman, who replied that he should make it the slogan for his re-election campaign.
As Letterman apologized for past barbs, Christie pulled a doughnut from his pocket and began munching, drawing laughter from the audience. Mariano said Wednesday that CNN had called her to comment on that gag.
"I thought it was very sad that he made fun of that," Mariano said. "I can understand why his doctors and other people have had trouble getting him to lose weight. This is an issue that will haunt him if he decides to run for office."
The governor told Letterman, who has made Christie's girth the subject of his often-biting Top 10 lists, that his wife and kids prod him regularly to lose weight. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, in Union Beach, the governor said "there's always a plan" when it comes to dieting.
"Every week, every month, every year, there's a plan," Christie said. "Sometimes periods of great success are followed by periods of great failure."
Mariano said she had to cut the interview short because Christie was calling her.