President Barack Obama holds on as he is hugged and picked up by Scott Van Duzer at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian …Florida pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer lifted President Barack Obama a solid foot off the ground in a bear hug during an unscripted stop at his Fort Pierce, Fla., store. Literally.
So what did the Secret Service think about Van Duzer — a registered Republican who says he'll vote for Obama in November — hoisting the president? "He said I was all right as long as I didn't take him away," Van Duzer told reporters.
Obama, wrapping up a two-day bus tour through Florida, dropped by the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant for the kind of unannounced visit that breathes life into sometimes dreary campaign travel.
"Scott, what's going on, man," the president called as he arrived. "Let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I've ever seen."
"Everybody, look at these guns," Obama said as he chatted with Van Duzer, who is 6'3" and weighs 260 pounds. "If I eat your pizza will I look like that?"
"The two men laughed. They embraced. Van Duzer lifed Potus a good foot off the ground," according to the pool report filed by Politico's Reid Epstein (who is featured giving his best "gadzooks!" look on the far right in the picture below).
"Look at that!" Obama said upon his return to terra firma. "Man, are you a powerlifter or what?"
Well, yes. The pool report notes that Van Duzer later said he can bench press 350 pounds.
The pizza store he founded 16 years ago is the only place he's ever worked. And he has received commendations from the surgeon general's office for his work in encouraging blood donations. (Does he "encourage" with hugs?)President Barack Obama holds on as he is hugged and picked up by Scott Van Duzer at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian …
"I still wonder how he got these biceps," sad Obama. "But what we know is that the guy's just got a big heart along with big pecs. So we're very proud of him and we just want to say thank you for all the great work."
Van Duzer said he got 40-minutes' notice that the president was coming — and raced to his shop from the driving range. He told the pool that he is a "big political person" (Big. Yes.) and was "just overcome with excitement" — which led to the hug.
"I don't vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him," said Van Duzer, who also voted for Obama in 2008.