Chris Christie’s weight: How the 2016 hopeful compares to portly presidents past

May 8, 2013

Will there ever be another fat president?

New Jersey Gov. ChrisChristie walks to a podium during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Technology Enhanced Accelerated Learning Center at Essex County Newark Tech, Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Newark, N.J. Reports say Christie secretly underwent a weight-loss surgery in February, when a band was placed around his stomach to restrict the amount of food he can eat. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the podium Tuesday in Newark. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

 

Now that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he had lap-band surgery, pundits are once again weighing his chances for the Republican ticket in 2016. He wouldn’t be the first candidate to tip the scales, but the first in the TV-fitness-baby-boomer age where looks count as much as health. (Even though American voters are fatter than ever. Just sayin’.)

FILE - In this 1912 black-and-white file photo, President William Howard Taft is seen throwing out the first ball on opening day for baseball, to start the season for the Washington Senators in Washington. A hundred years ago, a portly right-hander, President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch at a Washington Senators game, a weak lob from the stands to the great Walter Johnson. On Monday, the Nationals bring in the left-hander, President Barack Obama. (AP Photo, File)
President William Howard Taft throws out the first ball on opening day in 1912. (AP Photo, File)

Some presidential fat to chew on: William Taft, at 6 feet and 330 pounds, was the heaviest, but it wasn’t a huge issue during his 1908 campaign. Taft suffered from sleep apnea and high blood pressure, but he didn’t smoke or drink and dropped 70 pounds after leaving office. (The man loved to eat, but the story about getting stuck in a bathtub is probably exaggerated.)

Other portly presidents: Grover Cleveland,“a walrus in wingtips” at 5’ 11” and 280 lbs.; William McKinley, 5’ 7” and 200 lbs.; Chester Arthur 6’ 2” and 220 lbs.; Teddy Roosevelt, 5’ 10” and 200 lbs., who lost 55 lbs. after his White House years. But (trivia contest alert) the only president to drop dead of a heart attack was Warren Harding —6’, 200 lbs. — who died in 1923 at age 57.

Modern politicians are in better shape: Bill Clinton ballooned to 230 lbs. during his two terms, then dropped the excess weight after a health scare and vegan diet. Christie, 5’ 11”, has never revealed his exact weight, but estimates range from 300 to 350 lbs.; he’s reportedly already dropped 40.

GOP in 2016: Gotta Oust Pounds?

 

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Michael Livingston · May 7, 2013