New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who romped in a re-election victory Tuesday night and has become a leader in the Republican Party, is featured on the magazine’s cover this week.
Inside the print edition, the story about the Jersey boy and Springsteen fanatic was headlined, “Born to Run.” It’s a look at why the governor and former prosecutor might be his party’s most serious presidential contender in 2016.
On the cover, TIME called Christie, “The Elephant in the Room.” The cover points readers to a package of three stories, including a look at Christie’s game plan for seeking a Presidential nomination, an excerpt from Double Down by TIME’s Mark Halperin and New York‘s John Heilemann on the turmoil surrounding Christie’s vetting as a possible vice president candidate for Mitt Romney and a column by Joe Scarborough about how Christie can unite Republicans. The overarching themes of the package: Christie’s outsized influence in his party and the discomfort he causes some fellow Republicans who consider him, well, the elephant in the room.
The reaction was swift from critics and fans alike—with many choosing to focus on a single interpretation of the cover.
“TIME magazine makes a fat joke for its cover on Chris Christie,” Salon wrote.
Business Insider had a different view: “The new issue of TIME features a brilliant triple entendre featuring Chris Christie.”
Early Thursday afternoon, a poll on the Huffington Post showed a near even split between those who thought the cover in poor taste and those who thought, “What’s the problem?”
Talk of Christie’s weight—a topic the governor has openly addressed—has often swirled around discussion of his political ambitions. Christie himself has made light of his weight. Appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in February, he told the host that the jokes about his size don’t bother him that much.
“If it’s not funny, I don’t laugh. But I’ve never felt like it was, you know, anything that really bugged me all that much, no,” Christie said. The governor then interrupted the interview to eat a donut.