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By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called it “unfortunate” that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono seemed to take a jab at his weight at a recent political event.
"For me and for other folks across New Jersey, many folks who are challenged by their weight, the fact that someone running for governor would make derisively comments about someone’s physical appearance I think is really beneath the office that she’s seeking and I’m disappointed that she’s done it," Christie said at a press conference in Newark. "But she’s playing out of the Corzine Playbook in that way.”
Christie said he “put up with it four years ago, I’ll put up with it now. It won’t change the way I feel about myself and about lots of other people who I represent in this state who face a similar challenge I’ve had in trying to control their weight and be in better shape.”
The governor was referring to the last gubernatorial election, when then-incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine poked fun at Christie's size in a political ad that accused him of getting away with causing a car accident, and traffic violations.
"Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney and got off easy," the ad said, showing slow motion video of Christie stepping out of an SUV, highlighting the movement of his extra girth.
Buono did not run an ad, but she did make public remarks at a campaign event where she criticized Christie's recent spending decisions for New Jersey, and seemed to be poking fun at the governor's appearance.
The Democratic gubernatorial nominee said she took issue with Christie "spending two million additional dollars on an ad campaign that features (him) at the Jersey Shore. Now I don’t know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go the shore.”
Many of those in attendance at the event, sponsored by the New Jersey Federation of Democratic Women, laughed at the remark.
David Turner, the Buono campaign’s communications director, disputed that the comments were aimed at the governor’s weight.
Turner said in a statement "Governor Christie seems to think that everything is about him. First, he defended his starring role in a federally funded ad campaign as absolutely essential to storm recovery. Now, as businesses question the effectiveness of the campaign, he says that anyone who dares to question him is somehow attacking his weight. It's time for the governor to toughen up and face the facts. His bluster and self-promotion have left business owners and residents across the state with one of the worst economies in the nation."
The Buono campaign provided a definition of the verb 'frolic' – “1. to amuse oneself : make merry; 2. to play and run about happily” – asking how it had anything to do with the governor’s weight, and providing a link to a local TV news story in which some business owners expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the Christie tourism campaign.
In April, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Buono if she would take on Christie's weight during the campaign.
"I'm not going to comment on another campaign and what they did. What I will say is I`m going to have a campaign on the issues," Buono responded.
Christie mentioned the appearance today, saying that Buono was asked by Matthews “if she would refuse to run the same type of ads that Governor Corzine did four years ago when he said, ‘I was throwing my weight around,’ and she refused to answer that question. And now I think we know why.”