3 Mar 2011

US ELECTIONS: The Biggest Loser. Too fat to run.

Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie is a favourite amongst many Republicans calling for him to stand as a candidate in the next US Presidential elections, but at 22 stone, is he too big to lead image conscious Americans in the next term?

A lot of Republicans would dearly love to see the Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie run for president. They adore the way he is cutting public spending in his state and taking on the trades unions at the same time. He could appeal to Tea Partiers worried about deficits but isn’t from the crazy wing of the party. He says he has no plans to run but not everyone believes that.

The big question – is he too fat to be President. He is a very big man. Probably about 22 stones.  When he ran for the governorship in 2009 his opponent ran ads accusing him of “throwing his weight around” including some deeply unflattering slow-mo shots of Christie’s full frame. Christie’s weight became a significant election issue with polls showing voters did say it would put them off voting for him.

Reports that Christie has been working out with a personal trainer three times a week and is slowly losing some weight are one reason people are ignoring his protestations that he will not be a presidential candidate in 2012. Because everyone knows weight matters

The fleshy governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour is also expected to climb into the ring. He once joked that if you ever saw him lose 40 pounds, he either had cancer or was running for president. People are watching his weight very closely these days.

The heaviest president America ever had was William Howard Taft, who, at over 300 pounds was larger than Chris Christie. Knows as “His Rotundity” he won his single term in 1908 before television or even newsreels. Since then no one has won the presidency that could be described as fat.

When Mike Huckabee ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 voters seemed more interested in his stories about how he lost 110 pounds (almost 8 stones) than his polices for running America. And his book “Quit Digging Your Grave With a A Knife and Fork” full of his “secrets to creating better health habits to last a lifetime” hugely outsells his books on politics.

The truism used to be that the taller man (for they have ALL been men) will win the general election. They always did, except for George W Bush, who at just under six feet, managed to beat two taller opponents. But otherwise the height advantage usually works.  Bush, of course, was often photographed running and had his gym time written into his White House schedule. 

President Obama takes it even further. Not only is he naturally tall, thin and fit, he has been getting even thinner since he moved into the White House. His top advisor David Axelrod was put on a diet during his term in the White House – only being allowed brown sugar on his porridge after he had lost the first 25 pounds.  And at a recent press conference Obama, in front of the world’s press, started hectoring one of his assistants for missing his workout appointments in the White House gym. So not only do you have to be thin to win elections – you need to keep trim just to work behind the scenes in the West Wing.

Republicans will have to look far and wide to find someone taller, thinner and fitter than the basket ball playing Obama to challenge him in 2012.