October 22nd, 2012
01:56 PM ET
6 years ago

Bear-hugging pizza man invited to debate

(CNN) - Perhaps this is President Barack Obama's way of returning the love.

His re-election campaign confirmed that they invited Scott Van Duzer, a pizza shop owner who lifted the president off the ground in a bear hug last month, as a guest for the final presidential debate Monday night.

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Obama faces GOP nominee Mitt Romney for the third of three debates at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

The president met Van Duzer during a campaign stop to Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Florida on September 6.

"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?"

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Presidential Debates
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Political posturing, bringing in people who totally support you.

    I find that to be BS, for the most part, no matter what party does it.

    October 22, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I love it! I'm sure Van Duzer will be thrilled!
    I'd like to let Mr. Van Duzer know that he put a smile in my heart that day when I saw how genuinely excited he was to meet our President. .
    Enjoy the debate Mr. Van Duzer!!
    Obama 2012.

    October 22, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. California Gary

    It will be good to have a strong man handy tonight......he may be needed to help Romney extract his head from his rear. He has a big head and it will be way up in there.......so he'll need a hand in popping it out at the end of the debate.

    October 22, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. gt

    big arms ...big gut...no thanks...just stay away....real far away...gulp...

    October 22, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Pete

    Maybe that'll give Pres.Obama a little psychological advantage having the pizza guy there.He is what the presidents been all about ,the little guy,the middleclass,poor,seniors,college students,vets and such,not the millionaires,billionaires that endorse Romney the out of touch Mormon candidate..We'll see after tonight just how those debate lessons Romney got from Portman got him because the gloves are off and no telling what's going to happen tonight,its live!!

    October 22, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Babyboomer

    Nice thing to do. Mr. Van Duzer, enjoy...

    October 22, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. dz

    We look FORWARD to seeing him tonight...lol yeah he was big! OBAMA2012

    October 22, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. 1twinsfan

    Van Duzer is there just in case Tag tries to make good on his threat to hit the President.

    October 22, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. JohnPeel

    There was an article a short time before this one that quoted Scott Van Duzer as being a registered Republican.
    So the guy was invited to the debate; doesn't mean that he is going to vote Democrat, yet the president saw fit to invite him to the debate simply because the guy was genuinely happy to see the President in his restaurant. He was speaking about the office not the man. Some people struggle with that and show disrespect. Hope the guy enjoys the debate whoever he votes for.
    People are likely to believe anything they hear when they don't have the truth themselves.
    In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king – Desiderius Erasmus – (1500)

    October 22, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Kumar

    This is a move to Seek Protection from Tag Romney

    October 22, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Borderless

    Good plan. I imagine after tonight's debate Obama will need a hug.

    October 22, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    @borderless, if you had to mail in your ballot you are either military or in a home for the insane. You are the one who needs a hug.
    If YIU are serving our country just remember that your twit said that Presideng Obama taking fighting troops outnomIraq was a tragedy. He didn't serve in Vietnam because he was too busy pushing his cult religion in France and writing love letters to that non working wife of his and his five non servi sons are just like their daddy. Cowards all.
    If you are in a home I hope there's enough Medicaid, social security and Medicare to care for you as you grow older.
    Forget dominos and papa johns (both rethugs) go to your local mom and pop pizza store. The food is better.

    October 22, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Allen

    When people appreciate our duly elected commander in chief instead of deriding him and inventing petty excuses for hating him it is truly indicative of their inherent patriotism. I was raised in a country where we not only were proud of our president but also of our representative form of government. I turn on the radio on my way to work and I hear pundits proclaiming not only what a lousy government we have and that we need less of it... but also casting personal attacks against the person all of us elected as president.. if you don't appreciate America you are more than welcome to take your worthless self out of here.

    October 22, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |

    Oh! You mean the REPUBLICAN bear hugging Mr. Van Duzer. Sure hope Bob let's him ask a question just for the heck of it.

    October 22, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Prosperid

    Paul Ryan should ask Mitt to invite the folks who washed the dishes that Phony Ryan was pretending he was cleaning for his political posturing.

    October 22, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |

    This is going to be a good debate. Not just becuase the President is going to wipe the floor with Willard, but because Bob Schieffer is the moderator. If republicans thought that Candy Crowley's fact check was inappropriate, then they're in for a long night. Bob Schieffer calls out the BS. Besides for David Gregory, he's my favorite Sunday morning talk show host. No softball questions.

    October 22, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |