New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told ABC’s Barbara Walters that being overweight shouldn’t bar him from seeking the presidency.
The 50-year-old Republican, who plans to seek a second term as governor next year and hasn’t ruled out a 2016 White House bid, said he was “more than a little” overweight when Walters asked him about his size during an interview for her “10 Most Fascinating People” special that airs today.
Walters tells Christie that concerns about his health are the reason people raise questions about his weight. The governor said he was perplexed by those who say that his size should disqualify him from the White House.
“That’s ridiculous,” Christie said. “I don’t know what the basis for that is.”
Christie has said his struggle with weight began 30 years ago when he stopped playing organized school sports. He told Oprah Winfrey in January that he was working with a dietitian and exercising more regularly.
The governor has shown a willingness to joke at his own expense, last month kiddingly refusing to answer questions about the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies snack cakes.
William Howard Taft, the largest president, weighed more than 300 pounds, according to World Book's online encyclopedia. Christie has declined to disclose his weight.
During the Walters interview, Christie highlighted his recent response to superstorm Sandy as proof that his size doesn’t slow him down.
“I’ve done this job pretty well and I think people have watched me for the last number of weeks and Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days and getting right back up the next day and still being just as effective,” he said in a clip of the interview. “So I really don’t think that would be a problem.”
The special, which also includes boy band One Direction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and reality television’s Honey Boo Boo, is scheduled to air at 9:30 p.m. New York time.