September 9th, 2012
05:18 PM ET
11 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. LVRachel

    Our President is so cool. He may be the most powerful man in the world, but he knows that he's just a dude doing his job. It's so funny to see the righties getting their undies all up in a wad over seeing such a candid, honest depiction of our President.

    September 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Drago1

    Shows a real down to earth POTUS who is beloved by his citizens Regardless of the the Party. A Real Leader of the People

    We need to make sure HATE never Prevails...

    Thant simple...

    September 10, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    if he was a real republican he would have completed the job and brought him out to the dumpster where he belongs.

    September 10, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. TheVoice2

    Mitt Phony would have asked to be sprayed with sanitizer by the secret service.

    Mitt Phony's motto "make me President now, I'll give you details later"

    September 10, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. lolo

    The republicans are really showing that green envy aren't they? Also they just keep on showing how racist they are. They have not one good thing to say about President Obama. Just keep it up GOP/TP'ers. November is coming fast and furious and at this time your Romneyhood is not looking to good. He is a fake!!!!!!!!The man is nothing but a flip-flop liar. He is doing the same thing over again that he did with Senator Kennedy and you still don't see it. So the only reason that you hate president Obama so much is because he is African-American. As for your jobs, ask Mittens, George and Cheney what happened to them.

    September 10, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts

    if he was a real republican he would have completed the job and brought him out to the dumpster where he belongs.
    No, he's a real Republican: you're not. It must suck, knowing your Mormon aristocrat will lose in less than 60 days: I guess your name is a reflection of the reality you know is true.

    September 10, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. lolo

    @ Truth Hurts, pull in those claws my man, you really sound ignorant.

    September 10, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. TheVoice2

    The crazy thing about the righty neo-cons now is that Reagan would have been too moderate. Meaning Reagan would have lost to Mitt Phony in the primaries.

    September 10, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    It certainly beats a doddering actor talking to, the level of hatred this story brings out in the all the righties, people complaining about the sacrifice of dignity, etc: they actually resent Obama being a normal person, as opposed to the aristocrat with the dressage horse they've picked.

    September 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. cjsks

    @truth hurts – that would have been the LAST thing he ever tried to throw out, lol.

    September 10, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. cjsks

    LOL @ people who think this was stagged.

    September 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. sassysticks53

    LOL! The neo-cons are a bunch of jealous, hateful, bigots! They look stupid and ignorant. I was a delegate at the DNC last week. The contrast between our convention and their boring, phony, nearly all-white folks convention, was glaring. I'm so proud to be a Democrat who fully supports President Obama and all other Democrats.


    September 10, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. charles

    more Obama marketing. i mean really...where is the secret service?

    September 10, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    @truth hurts

    if he was a real republican he would have completed the job and brought him out to the dumpster where he belongs.
    You quite clearly are a "real Republican" and suggesting that harming our President is a good idea proves it. Patriotism and honor are no longer virtues in what's left of the Republican Party – replaced by bigotry, hate and racism.

    September 10, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Sivick

    He's such a loveable president you just want to pick him up and hug him! With all those GOP dogs barking at him all the time he probably needed that hug.

    September 10, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. BWile

    Wow! I would love to bear hug the prez, but I would be afraid of the Secret Service killing me on the spot! That guy has guts to pick up the leader of the free world like that!

    September 10, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Kr55

    lol. Imagine if that happened to Romney? The guy would throw his back out trying to lift that stiff.

    September 10, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Another Huge Obama Failure

    Doesn't Obama have anything to do like maybe running the country?
    I'm sure a signed letter (vs. his usual autopen nonsense) would have been sufficient.
    Oh, but right, it's pandering season...

    September 10, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Bookenz

    Maybe people are starting to see the truth. The question isn't whether you're better off than you were 4 years ago, but rather just how bad things will get (again) if the Republicans get in.

    September 10, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. macarter

    That was truly cool. Yes.... cool in the way everything played out. I like that!!!!

    September 10, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. macbil

    Compared to Romney it doesn't take much for Obama to appear more relaxed and cooler. Romney would have said, "wow, Scott your as big as the taxes breaks I'm getting by stashing my money in Swiss and Cayman Island accounts."

    September 10, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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