Lifestyle & Belief

Firestorm erupts over Obama bear hug photo


US President Barack Obama is picked up by Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant during a visit to the restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida, Sept. 9, 2012, during the second day of a 2-day bus tour across Florida.


Saul Loeb

A political firestorm has erupted over a photo of a pizza place owner in Florida hugging and lifting President Barack Obama off the ground.

Big Apple Pizza and Pasta owner Scott Van Duzer told a local TV station he was "overwhelmed" when he saw the president on Sunday.

Van Duzer, 46, is 6' 3" and weighs 260 pounds, according to the Huffington Post.

Afterwards Obama said, "Look at that! Man are you a power lifter or what?"

Van Duzer, a Republican, told the press, "I don't vote party line. I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him."

But that hasn't stopped conservatives from blasting Van Duzer over the photo.

A firestorm has erupted on the restaurant's Yelp page, and Van Duzer told Politico some people are even boycotting his pizza joint as a result.

“There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now," he told Politico.

Obama made the stop to highlight Van Duzer's work as a blood donor advocate.

"[H]e has galvanized and mobilized the local community and he's educating kids and folks all across the country on this issue," Obama said.

This isn't the first time someone from the first family got an unexpected lift. In East London on July 29, US Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova picked up Michelle Obama, who was visiting Olympic athletes during the games.

Let's hope this becomes a trend.