The Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Fla. was only informed 40 minutes before Obama's arrival that they'd be having a special customer and Van Duzer hustled back from the golf course to be there. The large man, 6' 3" and 260 pounds, was so excited when he met the president he literally picked him up, lifting him
up in the air in a classic bear hug.
Obama uplifted by pizza shop owner
When they met Obama noted Van Duzer's size. "Let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I've ever seen," Obama said. "Everybody, look at these guns. If I eat your pizza will I look like that?" Obama and Van Duzer laughed and, unscripted, Van Duzer, who says he bench presses 350 pounds, lifted the president up off the ground.
"Look at that!" Obama said after being placed back down. "Man, are you a powerlifter or what?" It has been widely reported
that the nearby pool of reporters looked pretty shocked, doubtless the first time they've witnessed the president having such an uplifting experience. Van Duzer said that the lift was spontaneous and he was "just overcome with excitement."
Part of the reason they selected the pizza shop, which Van Duzer opened 16 years ago, seems to be because of all the work Van Duzer has done to encourage people to donate blood. He was commended by the surgeon general's office for his volunteer work in that area. Obama said "we're very proud of him and we just want to say thank you for all the great work."
For his part Van Duzer told reporters that being a Republican doesn't stop him from voting for the candidate he feels will do the best job, regardless of political stripe. "I don't vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him," the big man said.