September 9th, 2012
05:18 PM ET
10 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. SafeJourney

    Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida now has National recognition. Scott will have to expand his business

    September 9, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  2. paulachar


    September 9, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Catmandew

    Too bad he didnt drop him on his head maybe that give him some sense of direction or a little backbone! Might do Obama some good then maybe he would fly right and not point his finger at everyone else when his ideas fail! Just a thought!

    September 9, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. Larry L

    I don't think CNN should use "Barack" when refering to the President of the United States.

    The President does relate extremely well with working people – unlike Romney who has to fake that relationship.

    September 9, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    So now the press is calling the POTUS, Barack?? No respect whatsoever..... Funny, I never heard anyone refer to Bush as George. SMH.

    September 9, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  6. Really?

    I hope everyone attempts to hug him and see how fast the secret service takes you down. These set ups don't impress me much

    September 9, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. LindaJay23

    I'm sure he did not get arms like that eating pizza. The owener seemed excited to meet our prez, I would be, too.

    September 9, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  8. steve

    What a down to each common man. Thank yo Mr. president for never forgetting where you are from and who you are. Thanks for fighting for middle class.

    September 9, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  9. OCCavoter

    Wow, what enthusiatic joy for the President. Obama2012

    September 9, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. MMcMahon

    I love Obama. He is a real, dow-to-earth guy who cares about the people (unlike his opponent).

    September 9, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  11. Mimi2345

    This guy was just at the WH in July. Surprise visit....yeah right.

    September 9, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  12. Roger de Vries

    What a great president Obama is, America ought to feel very lucky and I'm sure they will long-term, in 4 years America will be much much better off with him, just give him some more time.

    September 10, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  13. Jorge UU Boosh

    Van Duzer just clinched The Presdident re-election for him!!!!!!!!

    September 10, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  14. fes

    the people's president. He is one of us! lets goooo FL!

    September 10, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  15. Greg

    Romney will never get hug like that from a small businessmen.

    September 10, 2012 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  16. Donkey Party

    If Mitt were picked up like that, his batteries might fall out.

    September 10, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  17. Les

    Very presidential.

    September 10, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  18. pa

    That was really funny!

    September 10, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  19. Nate

    Maybe I'm too old fashioned but it seems to me that the president should be treated with more respect than that. I'm not sure why that big goon thinks it's acceptable to hoist the president like a sack of potatoes (or anyone he's just met for that matter).

    September 10, 2012 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  20. hmm

    now imagine somebody trying to pick the Romney's lol they will sue everybody for making them human.

    September 10, 2012 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  21. Muhammad

    In the Name of Almighty God, this shows how much love we have for our President. I am a registered Democrat and once voted for former President George Bush. This bear hugger is a registered Republican and he is gonna vote for President Obama. –We vote for the best candidate (That is current President Barack Obama)

    September 10, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  22. I'm just saying too....

    What a wonderful ,down to earth President we have!!! We should all thank God for him because it will be a long time coming before we have another like him. After his last term is done, it will be "back to busness" with the "same old-same old!!!!!

    September 10, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I loooooved it!!
    The man was EXCITED about meeting his President, nothing wrong with that!
    He thanked the President for everything he's done. He was truly thrilled!
    If I had the opportunity I would get a little bonkers meeting our President my darn self!
    Way to show your love Mr. Van Duzer!!!!!!!!!!!
    Obama 2012. Period.

    September 10, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  24. Gurgyl

    Just great to see such affectionate guys... Obama12.

    September 10, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  25. Name

    How nice. Acting like children.

    September 10, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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