The Washington Times - September 9, 2012, 04:14PM

President Obama says campaigning lifts his spirits, but on Sunday a burly restaurant owner gave Mr. Obama a lift literally.

Pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 260 pounds, gave the president a bear hug and lifted Mr. Obama “a good foot off the ground,” according to a pool reporter traveling with the president. It happened when Mr. Obama made a stop for lunch at Big Apple Pizza & Pasta in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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“Look at that!” Mr. Obama said once he was back on firm ground. “Man are you a powerlifter or what?”

Mr. Van Duzer said he can bench press 350 pounds.

When Mr. Obama first approached the pizza shop owner, he said: “Scott, what’s going on man? Scott, let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I’ve ever seen.”

The president pointed to Mr. Van Duzen’s muscles and said to others in the restaurant, “Everybody look at these guns. If I eat your pizza will I look like that?”

That’s when the shop owner hugged and lifted the president.

The president chose the restaurant because Mr. Van Duzer, a Republican who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again, has received commendations from the White House for promoting blood donations.

“The guy’s just got a big heart along with big pecs,” Mr. Obama said.