New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the sort of politician who attracts attention.
For an elected official, he displays a remarkable degree of candor, often favoring bluntness over diplomacy. It has won him both admirers — and detractors — across a broad ideological range.
A staunch fiscal conservative, the Republican Christie has angered traditional Democratic constituencies such as public labor unions with his demands that government costs must be reduced. Meanwhile, he hammered GOP leaders in Congress when they were slow to approve emergency aid funds for his state’s victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Because of his success — particularly in a state that’s heavily Democratic — Christie is getting consideration as a possible presidential contender in 2016. He has been vague about his intentions in that regard — as all would-be candidates are this far out.
However, he hasn’t rejected the notion of running.
To the contrary, Christie has been dealing with an issue that could be front and center should he decide to seek the White House: His weight.
Christie, as you may have observed, is a man of considerable girth. His actual weight and related data are not public record. But it has been a subject of popular conversation ever since he ran for governor.
And it’s obvious Christie isn’t particularly pleased with that fact. On various occasions, he has responded to questions about his weight by telling people to mind their own business.
Yet there was Christie, on a recent episode of David Letterman’s late-night talk show, poking fun at his weight while taking shots at his health-related critics. He insisted that despite appearances, he is “the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen in your life.”
But by the end of his appearance on the program, Christie was announcing that he intends to initiate a weight-loss program, assuring viewers, “There is a plan. Whether it’s successful or not, you’ll all be able to notice.”
For veteran political observers, this admission by Christie is tantamount to a presidential campaign announcement. Why else would the governor go on national television to talk about a seemingly personal issue in this manner, while reassuring the public he is working on his weight?
While Christie is by no means the only American carrying around extra pounds, you can be sure his weight will become an issue should he run for president. The duties of chief executive are physically demanding, and the overall health of those running for office becomes a consideration.
Should he run for the White House, Christie’s weight may not be the overriding concern, but it will be a factor. He needs to address it in constructive fashion.
And in doing so, maybe he can be a role model for other Americans hoping to shed a few pounds.