- - Sunday, September 9, 2012

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 feet 3 inches 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.

“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 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 Duzer’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 was 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.


Biden bonds with bikers in Ohio diner appearance

SEAMAN, Ohio — Vice President Joseph R. Biden was looking to cozy up with voters as he toured Ohio this past weekend, but he did not imagine that an Ohio woman would nearly end up in his lap.

Mr. Biden was chatting with customers in the Cruisers Diner in southern Ohio Sunday when he met a group of motorcycle riders in black leather vests and bandanas.

A female group member was watching, and Mr. Biden waved her over, telling her, “I know who runs the show.”

The woman had no place to sit, so Mr. Biden pulled a chair in front of himself and pulled her nearly into his lap. He put his hands on her shoulders and leaned in for a conversation as photographers snapped away.

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