- - 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.

Mr. Biden was on his way to a speech in nearby Milford.


Ads aim to turn Wisconsin Republican again

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is airing campaign ads in Wisconsin, making a play to win the state last carried by a Republican in 1984.

Mr. Romney hopes the ads, blaming President Obama for the federal deficit, can give him an edge in the state that is home to his running mate, Paul Ryan, and where polls have shown him even with the Democratic incumbent.

The former Massachusetts governor also hopes to force Mr. Obama to defend Wisconsin by spending additional campaign money there. Mr. Obama carried Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008 and has not aired ads there.

Independent groups backing Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are running ads in the state.

Mr. Romney, a native of Michigan, also hopes to compete there. Democratic presidential candidates have carried the state since 1988.


Obama suggests how best to mark Sept. 11 anniversary

President Obama is asking Americans to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by remembering how far the nation has come since that day.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Mr. Obama said he wants people to remember the victims and their families, and to honor the first responders who risked their lives to help.

Mr. Obama said America has come back stronger and al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.

In the Republican address, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming criticized Mr. Obama’s presidency and said the nation isn’t better off than it was four years ago under President Bush.


Armed Services chairman visits Texas base, assesses scandal

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is assessing how the Air Force is responding to a widening sex scandal.

Republican Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California traveled to Lackland Air Force Base on Sunday and met with four-star Gen. Edward Rice Jr., other military officials and 30 recruits during a three-hour visit. Investigators have said dozens of female recruits were sexually assaulted or harassed by their male instructors at the Texas base.

Mr. McKeon said officials were being diligent in their investigations and addressing problems at Lackland.

Military prosecutors have investigated more than a dozen instructors and charged six with crimes including rape and adultery.

Lackland is where every new American airman reports for eight weeks of basic training.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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