A published report this week had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie telling donors at a private reception that he has lost about 85 pounds since his lap band surgery last year and planned to continue losing weight.

Governor Christie in Ocean City
Governor Christie in Ocean City (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Though Christie has since called the report "inaccurate," his weight loss is obvious and has inevitably become part of the conversation about his future political plans.

Political experts seem to think that could help Christie if he decides to seek the GOP presidential nomination next year, as many suspect he will.

"Many people perceive the issue of weight as not being something that is genetic, but rather that it is a lifestyle choice and perhaps is indicative of a lack of discipline, so if that person just cut calories or went to the gym more regularly they would be in better control of their fitness and their appearance," said Dr. Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University. "I think that kind of self-discipline is what people want in an elected leader."

Harrison said this perception makes weight a very difficult hurdle for politicians to overcome, and that people who are very heavy and in the public eye frequently become the targets of jokes.

If Christie does run for president, Harrison said it might actually help him to be moderately overweight, because many people will think "this guy is facing the same kinds of struggles that I face -- but also, that he is a normal guy, the kind of guy you'd like to sit down and have a beer with."

Christie's physique actually fits him, according to the professor.

"Given the governor's image that he is a kind of no-holds-barred, calls 'em like he sees 'em kind of guy, his physical appearance works with his persona," Harrison said.

She also said that Christie is definitely not the kind of person who's going to blow-dry his hair and wear French-cut suits.

"People feel like they can identify with him," Harrison said. "He has that kind of disarming appeal that is very attractive to a lot of voters. He's not going to be fake and pretend he's someone that he isn't."

Just don't expect the New Jersey governor to share much information about his weight loss. According to NJ.com, Christie was asked about the New York Times' "85 pounds" story Tuesday and told reporters: “I’m not going to tell you why it was inaccurate…because I don’t talk about that stuff, and the reason I don’t is that that’s my business and nobody else’s.”


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