September 9th, 2012
05:18 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama gets a bear hug

Fort Pierce, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama got a warm embrace on Sunday - one that lifted him about a foot off the ground.

While campaigning in Fort Pierce, Florida, the president stopped into Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant, where about 10 customers were gathered inside, and greeted the shop's owner, Scott Van Duzer.

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"Scott, what's going on man," the president said as he walked in. "Scott, let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I've ever seen."

Van Duzer, 46, stands 6-foot-3, weighs 260 pounds and says he can bench press 350 pounds, according to a pool reporter who was at the restaurant.

"Everybody look at these guns," Obama said, pointing to Van Duzer's chest. "If I eat your pizza will I look like that?"

Laughing, Van Duzer hugged the president, arched his back and hoisted him off his feet.

"Look at that!" Obama said after he was back on the ground. "Man are you a powerlifter or what?"

Talking to reporters afterward, Van Duzer said he didn't know the president was coming to his restaurant until about 40 minutes beforehand. The Florida business owner rushed from the driving range to get there in time.

Describing himself as "a big political person," Van Duzer said he was "just overcome with excitement" and lifted the president. Van Duzer said he was a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to cast his ballot again for the president in November.

Asked if he was concerned about a Secret Service reaction to the hug, Van Duzer said he was informed that "I was all right as long as I didn't take him away."

The president said he wanted to stop by the shop and express appreciation to Van Duzer for leading community efforts that encourage blood donation.

"I still wonder how he got these biceps, but what we know is that the guy's just got a big heart along with big pecs," Obama said. "So we're very proud of him and we just want to say thank you for all the great work."

The president wasn't the only Obama to receive a big boost recently. A female Olympic wrestler picked up his wife, Michelle, while the first lady was in London to watch the opening ceremony and lead the presidential delegation.

"Even before she made the rounds I thought I can't just hug her like everybody else," the wrestler, Elena Pirozhkova, said. "I think she was nervous. I went slow. I just picked her up. I wanted to ask her permission. There was security all around. And she gave it. I will only meet her once. I wanted to do something different."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • President Obama
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Arithmetic

    Just had my 2nd grader answer the following:

    $3.49 x 2 > $5.00 ;)

    I love arugula and off to the grocery as I didn't know it so cheap...thank you Obama!!!

    September 10, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Nick

    Of the people, By the people, For the people..This is America.

    September 10, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Larry L

    @Wilson

    I see from the comments here that these set up/staged events continue to impress the intellectually challenged.
    ---------------------------------------------------–
    The intellectually-challenged are those who accept Romney's promises of low taxes, cheap gas, no deficit increase, terrific healthcare, huge defense budget, and tax loopholes for the rich – but no specifics on how to pay the enormous bill! He's given absolutely no specifics – zip! These same folks will vote for him w/o seeing the tax returns he's hiding. The same group who's seen him flip-flop between liberal and conservative, pro-choice and pro-life, and pro-Romneycare and anti-Obamacare (the same thing). These same people accept his plan to trash Medicare, de-regulate Wall Street, and eliminate environmental protections to prevent oil companies from trashing the environment. Now that's intellectually-challenged!

    September 10, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Ali Arar

    That's is unconditional love in action. The President, which is the father the brother and the son of this nation, especially Obama, gets the welcome of a son, a brother, and a father. From that clip you can tell Van Duzer could not contain his excitement and the only way to show it is the American way. God bless Obama for his spirit and acceptance. I would do the same :)

    September 10, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    @Robert: "Obama so loved the poor that he created millions more!"

    Gee, by cutting taxes for 95% of Americans? By having policies that have resulted in 30 straight months of private sector growth? By continuing to work hard day after day, even though Repubs are doing everything they can to stop our country – including not passing the President's jobs bill, which would have resulted in another million jobs?

    If you're looking for someone who knows how to create poor people, look at Mittens, who made his millions by breaking up American companies, laying off American workers, and outsourcing American jobs.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    @Wilson: "I see from the comments here that these set up/staged events continue to impress the intellectually challenged."

    Nope, the owner wasn't at his restaurant (he was playing golf) when he heard the President would be stopping by. The owner made it a priority to meet the President, because he appreciates all the hard work the President has been doing for small businesses and that his economic policies are working.

    If you had actually read the article, you'd know that.

    September 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Me

    It was not staged. Scott's pizza place is right across the street. He is a s genuine as they come and has given so much back to the community. He asked secret Service after he hugged the President. Enjoy it or not, it was not staged. That is pretty obvious form the video and form his own words. Don't hate people; it was as real as it gets.

    September 10, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. whatever

    P.R. Stunt.

    September 10, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. Kansas Lib

    This highlights the enthusiasm gap. Is ANYBODY enthusiastic about a Romney Presidency?

    September 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. unblvble

    BS photo op and free advertisement. Get back to work BO?

    September 10, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Wilson

    @ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    @Robert: "Obama so loved the poor that he created millions more!"

    Gee, by cutting taxes for 95% of Americans? By having policies that have resulted in 30 straight months of private sector growth? By continuing to work hard day after day, even though Repubs are doing everything they can to stop our country – including not passing the President's jobs bill, which would have resulted in another million jobs?

    If you're looking for someone who knows how to create poor people, look at Mittens, who made his millions by breaking up American companies, laying off American workers, and outsourcing American jobs.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice
    --------------------------------------------–
    Obama has created more poor people, over 4 million more out of work than when he took office, increasing the number of people on food stamps by millions since he has been in office. Think again, you don't have a leg to stand on.

    September 10, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. AlexC/Romania

    So Obama walks in a republican's bar... :))
    Very beautiful !

    September 10, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. sayer

    Man of the people. Obama 2012!

    September 10, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. FedUp

    This has to be a set up photo. Otherwise, the Secret Service would have been all over this guy.. There is no way they would have allowed him to do this.

    September 10, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Anonymous

    @Robert: "Obama so loved the poor that he created millions more!"

    The Republican Congress so loved the poor that they created millions more. See how that works? Silly, I know, but your comment was equally silly.

    September 10, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Wake up People!

    Does ANYONE bother to READ?? The guy talked to SECRET SERVICE FIRST!!!! No wonder this election is close, NO ONE READS ANYTHING FOR THEMSELVES ANYMORE!!!

    September 10, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Cedar Rapids

    "This has to be a set up photo. Otherwise, the Secret Service would have been all over this guy"
    .....
    "Asked if he was concerned about a Secret Service reaction to the hug, Van Duzer said he was informed that "I was all right as long as I didn't take him away."

    September 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    hey obama, in an interview you said you have cut taxes on small business 18 times, do you mind showing us where you cut taxes? or is it that you have cut small business by 18 times greater than Bush did, all I can see are lies from obama and No Tax Cuts.

    September 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. coffee

    I'll like to see Chris Christie get a bear hug....ouch...ma back!

    September 10, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. rabi35

    Can you imaging this happening in any other country. No, that's what makes this country a great country, and Obama, the greatest president I would ever see. He's the real one guys, We should be grateful to have a President who is both humble and determined. I am sure this picture will be stored in museums 100 years from now to show what a great President Obama was, irrespective of what he does or doesnt do. Because he has a large heart!. God Bless Obama and God Bless America!

    September 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. dina

    You be a fool if you think this was unexpected. This pizza owner was in the white house to meet obama back in July. Obama does not do a thing unless it benefits him. The country has over 11% unemployment and this man understands us the unemployed....stop drinking the kool-aid and face the real facts!

    September 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. Dorothy

    How does Obama break Federal law & NOT pass a budget in 3 years? Yet, the 2 faced media wants "specifics" from the GOP ~ Glaring BIAS = ZERO CREDIBILITY

    September 10, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda I missed that.
    Back to the videotape!

    September 10, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Dorothy

    20,000 (non-union) DELPHI workers in Ohio lost retirement benifits ~ While all the UNION workes got theirs. Obama cares for "all" Americans? Then why did 20,000 NON UNION workers get thrown under the bus? Because they have no value to our Union loving pres? Its a shame the UNION teachers left 400,000 children without class in Chigago. Again, who are the greedy ones here?

    September 10, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. T J

    Say what you wnat, but Obama is just so lovable.

    September 10, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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