Gov. Chris Christie underwent lap-band surgery in February, the New Jersey Republican confirmed to Morning Joe on Tuesday morning.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he told the New York Post. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
His family urged him to get the surgery, which placed a tube around his stomach to reduce the amount of food he can eat before feeling full; he said was not motivated by political aspirations.
But his weight has been a issue in his political career: Former White House doctor Connie Mariano told reporters in early February that she feared Christie, if elected, would die in office.
“It’s almost a like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before running for office,” Mariano told CNN.
Christie responded angrily, telling Mariano to “shut up,” and calling her “just another hack who wants five minutes on TV.”
But two weeks after the comments, according to the New York Post, Christie checked into a surgery center under a false name for the procedure, which lasted 40 minutes. He returned home the same day.
The Republican governor’s name has been floated constantly as a potential candidate for 2016 and he’s enjoyed high approval ratings as New Jersey governor, particularly over the last year. But he maintains politics had nothing to do with his decision.
“I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, ‘I have to do this for them, even if I don’t give a crap about myself,’” he told the New York Post.