NEWARK, N.J. - Chris Christie got Lap-Band surgery to help slim down, but the New Jersey governor says it's not about a run for the White House, despite all the speculation.
"I did this for myself, my wife, and my children," Christie said today. "And unlike some of you, they will still pay attention to me whether I run for president or not. The fact is, it has nothing to do with running for governor this year, with running for president at any time in my life, if I ever decided to do that, and I said this yesterday, it may sound odd to people, but this is a hell of a lot more important to me than running for president. This is about my family's future. And that is a heck of a lot more important to me than the idea of running for President of the United States."
His surgery was revealed today in a story in the New York Post. He said he kept it "secret" because it is "nobody else's business."
"From my perspective and my family's perspective, the steps I have taken recently are for me and [wife] Mary Pat and the kids," Christie said outside of a high school here. "And if asked about it I would have never lied about it, but you know it is nobody else's business but mine."
In the extensive press conference, which went on almost an hour and consisted almost completely of queries about his surgery, he consistently denied this was about his family and not politics saying when he turned 50 in September he was "confronted" by his own "mortality" and the reality that he has four children, two of which are still in elementary school.
"My decisions about anything to do with my career are based on what is best for me and best for my family," Christie said. "And you know whatever size I happen to be when I have to make the decisions about what to do next in my career, I doubt that will play any role or effect in what I decide to do."
Christie said he doesn't "feel any more effective" than he did before he got the surgery at the NYU Medical Center on the Saturday of President's Day weekend in February, and just the fact that reporters were asking the questions means they have "absolutely no understanding of what is going on or this process."
He declined to give the name he checked in under.
"I tried a whole lot of different things and they hadn't worked," Christie said, noting he works out four days a week with a personal trainer. "This was an opportunity to try something different and I am doing it for my long term health. This isn't like to feel better tomorrow. This is about being healthier for the rest of your life. And to try to extend your life for as long as you possibly can."
He said although his family is not "thrilled" this became public their "presence" helped him decide to go forward with the surgery. Christie said he started considering the surgery in September and it was a "pretty hard" decision to make. He decided to do it in November, but when Superstorm Sandy struck at the end of October he postponed it.
He said the public interest and the headlines the news of his surgery has grabbed is "ridiculous," "silly," and "shallow."
The governor said he was in charge of the state throughout the 40-minute surgery, never putting Lt. Gov. Kim Guadano in control.
"I was in surgery for a total of 40 minutes," Christie said. "I was asleep for 40 minutes and no, the lieutenant governor was not in charge for those 40 minutes, I was in charge."
Christie has made no secret about his struggle with his weight, sometimes joking about it like when he ate a doughnut on David Letterman's late-night talk show, sometimes getting angry like just days later in February when he told a doctor who had expressed concern about his weight on television to "shut up."
Christie said he does not "care to be a role model in this regard for anyone," calling it an "intensely personal issue for people" and stressing he won't be writing weight loss books or taking a "victory lap" on television.
"No matter what happens with me, in this new attempt to lose weight, whether I'm perceived to be successful or not, you know, the fact of the matter is, everybody has to make these decisions for themselves," Christie said. "And I understand that better than anybody."
Despite the seriousness of the topic, Christie's signature sense of humor was still on show. When asked how he felt post-surgery he didn't miss a beat:
"I feel great about myself," he said. "But I felt great about myself before and I will feel great about myself after, no matter how it goes."
Christie said his health insurance paid for the procedure and after an exhaustive amount of questioning on the topic he had a message for the reporters still there: "This is it."
"You ask me any more questions about this and I am not answering," Christie said. "This is your shot today; I am not going to be taking questions on like how it is going, how you are feeling. Did you get new clothes, you know, you feeling good? I am not taking any of those questions, if you ask me."
Christie addresses the press this evening again today, but it's for a lighter reason: He will roast the New Jersey press at the New Jersey Press Association Legislative Correspondents Dinner.