Chris Christie: Is New Jersey Governor Too Overweight to Become President?

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Chris Christie's Weight: Disadvantage or Advantage?

Ironically, many strategists say Christie's weight could work to his advantage if he enters the presidential race.

At a time when many Americans are angry with Washington and fed up with politicians, Christie's weight allows him to stand apart from the political crowd, they said. It is an image Christie played to when he warned New Jerseyans to "get the hell off the beach" as Hurricane Irene approached in late August.

"People want something different, something out of the ordinary ... someone who is willing to stand up and confront problems," McLaughlin said "Being a picture-perfect candidate I don't think is as important anymore."

Doug Muzzio, a political scientist at Baruch College, said Christie's weight could help him subliminally with voters, too.

"Maybe this is a time when you need someone to be a bull in a china shop," Muzzio said. "Well, bulls are big."

If there is a danger for Christie, it is that his weight might leave voters wondering about his health. In July, he went to the hospital with breathing problems and lightheadedness, forcing doctors to run an EKG test, take blood and x-ray his chest. The diagnosis: a bout of asthma.

Asked if rivals might use such episodes against him, Christie said at the time, "My political enemies are never at rest ... and if this is what they want to use, I think I'm having a pretty good week.

"Despite the well-chronicled issues with my weight, I've been relatively healthy by all objective indicators," he said.

McLaughlin, the Republican strategist, said he relishes the idea of Christie challenging President Obama.

"It would be a real visual contrast, where you have Barack Obama, who is in good shape, perceived as being buff and athletic, going against Chris Christie, who has problems with asthma, who is overweight," McLaughlin said.

"I'd argue it's a vision of government that is big, fat and out of control -- in contrast Christie, who is putting the government of New Jersey on a diet," he said, "The paradox is very interesting."

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