New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who told former White House physician Connie Mariano to “shut up” for talking about his weight, followed up with an angry telephone call, the doctor said.
“It was hard to get anything across,” Mariano, who treated Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, said in an interview broadcast yesterday on KTVK, a Phoenix television station owned by Belo Corp.
A debate about Christie’s weight started after the 50-year-old Republican, who’s seeking a second term, appeared Feb. 4 on CBS Inc.’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” where the governor has been a target of jokes about his girth. Christie, who has said he struggled with his weight since he stopped playing sports as a teenager, nibbled on a doughnut as a gag during the interview.
On CNN the next day, Mariano said Christie “may have a heart attack, may have a stroke,” and warned that he could die. At a Feb. 6 news conference, Christie called Mariano a “hack,” criticized her for assessing him from afar and said she should “shut up.”
Christie telephoned her after the news conference, Mariano told KTVK. Asked whether Christie yelled, she said yes. The governor has never disclosed his weight.
Christie, at a news briefing today, said he spoke with the physician, who now has a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I had a private conversation with Dr. Mariano and I intend to keep it private,” Christie told reporters in Trenton.
Mariano, who described herself as a one-time Christie fan, said she’s reconsidering her support for his possible run for U.S. president in 2016.
“If this is the way you handle stress, is this presidential?” Mariano said. “I have to think about that. Is this a presidential way to behave? Come on.”
Mariano said she’s received “lots of hate mails, lots of threatening -- sort of mean -- stuff” since making her comments about Christie.
“He even admitted he’s got a plan, he has a doctor,” she said. “I said, ’Well, please go forth and do that, because people are concerned about you.’”