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Pizza shop owner makes habit of candidate-grabbing

The Florida pizza shop owner who bear-hugged President Obama on Sunday is getting an extension on his 15 minutes of fame after power-lifting another politician.

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist became the latest official Wednesday to be embraced by Scott Van Duzer, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound restaurateur who was caught by cameras last weekend lifting Mr. Obama off the ground during the president’s visit to Big Apple Pizza and Pasta in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Mr. Crist, a former Republican and current independent, told the Palm Beach Post on Wednesday that he was interested in meeting Mr. Van Duzer, a Republican and Obama supporter who has also bear-hugged television reporter and daytime talk show host Anderson Cooper in the past week.

Mr. Crist, an Obama supporter who spoke at last week’s Democratic National Convention, met the pizzeria owner Wednesday afternoon.

“You know what I’m here for,” the former governor said, according to Mr. Van Duzer.

Mr. Crist, who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 as an independent, is rumored to be considering another run for governor in 2014 as a Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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