WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who recently described himself as “the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen,” revealed Tuesday that he’s taken a major step toward slimming down.
The Republican told the New York Post that he underwent lap-band stomach surgery over the Presidents Day holiday -- auspicious timing given that news of the procedure is seen as the latest indication that he’s eyeing a White House run in 2016.
Christie, however, denied that the procedure had any political implications, saying the decision was made after pleas from his family to shape up after a milestone birthday.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he told the newspaper. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
PHOTOS: 2016 presidential possibilities
Christie checked into a surgery center under a false name on Feb. 16, the Post reported. The procedure, which is less intrusive than gastric bypass surgery, is meant to make individuals feel fuller and cut down on food intake. One analyst told NBC News on Tuesday that Christie could lose 100 pounds if he does cut back on his eating.
Christie’s weight has been a matter of political discussion since his first run for the governor’s office in 2009. The campaign of then-Gov. Jon Corzine drew the Republican hopeful’s ire after it ran a television ad that said he "threw his weight around" in his role as U.S. attorney. Christie called on Corzine to "at least man up and say I'm fat" instead of simply alluding to his health.
Now a national leader in the GOP, Christie has dealt with the issue at times seriously, at times with humor. During a February appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," Christie pulled out a doughnut from his blazer and scarfed it down to the hoots of the audience, claiming to enjoy some of the digs Letterman routinely makes on his show.
Christie acknowledged concern about his health but claimed his cholesterol and blood sugar were "startlingly good." He later bristled at comments from a former U.S. surgeon general that she worried he would die in office if elected president. He said it was irresponsible to make such a claim without evaluating him.
His surgery came less than two weeks later.
Other past and potential presidential candidates have dropped significant weight in advance of national runs. Former GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee even wrote a book: “Quit Digging Your Grave With A Knife and Fork.” Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who was considering a 2012 run for the White House, told reporters in 2010 that if he lost 40 pounds “you'll know I’m either running or got cancer.”
Before any potential run for the White House, Christie will first face New Jersey voters in November in his bid for a second term. His campaign announced Monday that he’s raised over $6 million since beginning the race. His first television ad touts his first-term achievements, including the claim that he “made us proud to say we’re from New Jersey” again.
Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook