Chris Christie: Does he have the look of a president?
And if so, does that mean Chris Christie should forget about a run for the Oval Office?
New Jersey's governor, considered a rising star in the Republican Party, was hospitalized Thursday after having trouble breathing (he suffers from asthma), The Times reported. The story takes note of Christie's weight issues:
The governor has acknowledged leading an unhealthy lifestyle. In a recent interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Christie said he feels "guilty" about his weight.
"I'm really struggling, been struggling for a long time with it, and I know that it would be better for my kids if I got it more under control. And so I do feel a sense of guilt at times about that," he said.
Presidential image control is nothing new. As a candidate, Barack Obama took pains to downplay the fact he was a smoker. Bill Clinton, an admitted fast-food junkie, tried to tone down his late-night McDonald's runs. George W. Bush was an avid runner; his dad, George H.W., still skydives on his birthday. Ronald Reagan beat back questions about his age by happily clearing brush on his Santa Barbara ranch. John Kennedy famously hid serious health problems. And, of course, Franklin Roosevelt mostly managed to avoid public scrutiny of the fact that polio left him unable to walk.
And face it, it doesn't hurt the presidential aspirations of either Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin (if she has such aspirations) that they are attractive women.
But Christie is the flip side of that coin. Physically, he's more in the mold of President William Howard Taft than Obama. (How big was Taft? Turning to a reliable, if snarky, source, Answers.com: "He was so fat, he got stuck in his bathtub" -- a whopping 332 pounds.)
So Republicans (and others) may like Christie's politics. And the good folks of New Jersey elected him governor.
But is America ready for a president who, frankly, doesn't look healthy? Or, given that more and more Americans are themselves obese, would Christie's weight not be an issue?
What do you think? Take our (unscientific, informal) poll:
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with his wife, Mary Pat, in Sun Valley, Idaho, earlier this month. Credit: Peter Foley / Bloomberg