Chris Christie weight-loss procedure: Why now?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has undergone weight-loss surgery, the New York Post reports. Is this about 2016 and the politics of appearance?

Carlo Allegri/Reuters
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks on while giving his State of the State address in the Assembly chamber in Trenton, N.J., in January. Governor Christie, who has undergone weight-loss surgery, explains he did it for his wife and kids.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has had weight-loss surgery, according to an account in Tuesday’s New York Post. He agreed to the operation at the urging of family and friends after reaching the milestone of his half-century birthday.

The lap-band procedure is designed to cut his appetite by constricting his stomach. It’s already working, he told the Post.

“A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it, and I was full,” Governor Christie said.

Is this about 2016 and the politics of appearance? After all, comedians have ribbed the non-small Christie about his weight for years.

In 2011, David Letterman did “Top Ten Ways the Country Would Be Different if Chris Christie Were President,” and it was basically just a list of fat jokes. (Our favorite was No. 9, “Goodbye White House vegetable garden.”) That same year, veteran political journalist Michael Kinsley wrote a Bloomberg View column saying that Christie had done well in the Garden State and might be the man to impose fiscal discipline on Washington. Then he went for the too-obvious symbolism.

“Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first,” Mr. Kinsley wrote.

The fact is, though, Christie is doing pretty well on the national stage just the size he is. He’s one of the most popular governors in the United States and a front-runner for the 2016 GOP nomination, trailing ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by a tick in a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University poll.

Christie himself explains his surgery as something he did for his wife and kids. It’s got nothing to do with 2016 and isn’t complicated, he said. Weight is a problem he’s struggled with for years, and it’s time to do something about it.

“For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them,” said Christie.

That’s a sentiment any nacho-loving spouse and parent can relate to.

If there’s something the procedure is not about, it’s Christie’s more-immediate political prospects. He’s running for reelection at the moment, and he’s so far ahead he’d need a telescope to look back at his opponent, Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono.

As of the beginning of May, Christie has raised $6.2 million for his reelection bid, according to Politico.

Senator Buono has raised about $738,000, which is not even enough to qualify for all the public matching funds to which she’s entitled, according to Jarrett Renshaw of the Newark, N.J.-based Star-Ledger.

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