(CNN) — Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie opened up about the attacks on his weight that have hounded him throughout his political career, saying that while he used to find them hurtful, they have made him “tougher.”
Christie, whose appearance as an overweight politician has long been the subject of jokes by late-night talk show hosts and criticism from constituents and others, told CNN’s Dana Bash in “Being… Chris Christie,” that “after a while, you just learn to deal with it.”
“I could be talking about the Iran nuclear deal and I’ll get a response from somebody on email or Twitter or Facebook or wherever saying, ‘You fat S.O.B. You blah, blah, blah,'” he said in the second episode in Bash’s “Being…” series, which aired in full on Monday at 10 p.m. ET. “I’m like, ‘Okay, well, what’s that have to do with the Iran nuclear deal?’ One of the amazing things to me — and like I said, I think it’s made me tougher — is that no one sees that as a problem.”
Christie revealed in 2013 that he secretly underwent lap-band surgery for the sake of his wife and kids. His weight garnered more interest — and criticism — in 2020 after a bout with Covid-19 resulted in him spending seven days in an intensive care unit. Though age is the predominant factor affecting risk of hospitalization and death from the virus, a recent report from the World Obesity Federation found that being overweight comes a close second.
Commenting on the fact that public remarks about someone’s appearance have generally become unacceptable in recent years, Christie told Bash that “it’s been extraordinary to me to watch that that applies to everything about a person except for the weight.”
Christie, whose new book “Republican Rescue: Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden” comes out Tuesday, also said that by the end of his second term as governor, he had received a considerable amount of gifts related to his weight.
“Almost all them from people that had never met me. ‘Here’s the way you have to lose weight. This is what you have to do. This is what you have to do for your weight. Do this, that,'” he said. “I’m talking about a couple of hundred books, pamphlets, stuff sent in to me as ‘gifts’ to me about my weight.”
But Christie, a failed contender in the 2016 Republican primary who served for a time as an adviser to former President Donald Trump, said he thinks his public struggle with his weight has allowed some people to relate to him.
“There’s a lot of people who have weight problems in this country and they look at me and they can relate to me in a different way than people who don’t,” he said.
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