Wrapping up a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie poking fun at his weight during a David Letterman appearance, co-host Willie Geist argued the issue was a major political obstacle to Christie: "I think if he didn't weigh what he weighed right now, he'd be talked about as the shoo-in to be the nominee next time. But that's a real problem that people have to think about if they want to cast a vote for him, is his health." [Listen to the audio]
On Wednesday, ABC's Good Morning America similarly declared that Christie's weight "could be a major campaign issue" and lectured that the Governor should "lay off the doughnuts."
Here is a full transcript of the February 5 Today segment:
WILLIE GEIST: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last night was on with Letterman for the first time. He says he's long admired Letterman and doesn't mind all the endless fat jokes that Dave has made at Christie's expense. Here he is last night.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I've made jokes about you, not just one or two, not just ongoing, here or there, intermittent, but-
CHRIS CHRISTIE [EATING A DONUT]: I didn't know this was going to be this long.
GEIST: Christie said he had to break for the donut because the interview was so long.
TIFFANI THIESSEN [ACTRESS, WHITE COLLAR]: I love it.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Heavy Humor]
GEIST: He said, "Look, if the joke's funny, I laugh. Even if it's about me." He pulled out a couple of Dave's jokes from past shows, read them out loud. Al, he defuses all this with humor. He's aware of the problem, as you've talked about many times, you don't need other people to tell you about it.
AL ROKER: Exactly, and look, a lot of us who have struggled with weight feel that the best defense is a good offense. So if you can laugh at yourself before others laugh at you, then you kind of take some of the sting out of it.
NATALIE MORALES: Interesting, because Barbara Walters, you remember the interview she did eariler, I guess last year, when she asked if he was too fat to be president. He took issue with that.
ROKER: Sure. Yeah, well, that wasn't a joke, you know.
THIESSEN: That's not a joke.
ROKER: You know, he – and he says he's healthy. His blood pressure is where it should be.
TIFFANI THIESSEN: And those are the things that are most important.
ROKER: Yeah. And look, it's a personal decision. And when – if he decides he's going to do something about that, he'll do it, given that, you know, he – this is a guy, you can tell, when he makes up his mind about something, he does.
THIESSEN: And you know what? Funny is sexy, I'm sorry, at any size.
GEIST: There you go.
MORALES: Well, he's talked over the years about all the diets he's tried. And you know, I guess he just – he knows he's got to deal with it, but he's, you know, obviously got to find what works for him.
GEIST: And he does work out. He says he does actually, despite that joke, he worries about what he eats. But there are real questions. If he wants to be president, he's viewed nationally as a leader of the Republican Party. I think if he didn't weigh what he weighed right now, he'd be talked about as the shoo-in to be the nominee next time. But that's a real problem that people have to think about if they want to cast a vote for him, is his health.
ROKER: Well, I don't know, it worked for William Taft, so.
GEIST: It did. Couldn't get him out of that bathtub, though, could they?
ROKER: Look, there are down sides. But that's why you have Secret Service now.
GEIST: Yes, yes.
MORALES: Come and get you out of the tub, too?
ROKER: That's right.
THIESSEN: Is that what they're there for?
ROKER: Come in with a couple of tubs of butter and there you go.
THIESSEN: Oh, no. Oh, no.
GEIST: I didn't realize that's how they did it.
MORALES: New definition of "Secret" Service.