Republican small-business owner hugs Obama

Updated
Republican small-business owner hugs Obama
Republican small-business owner hugs Obama
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Scott Van Duzer, the owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta, has big muscles. Dude checks in at a linebacker-esque 6’3”, 260 pounds, and claims he can bench 350 pounds, per the New York Times.

That information is in  the New York Times because of what you see below: the small-business owner bear-hugging the President of the United States.

Van Duzer reportedly cleared this with the Secret Service beforehand, in case you were wondering. From the Times:

“Look at that!” [President] Obama exclaimed after the ebullient pizza shop owner lifted him a good couple of feet off the ground after he walked into the restaurant. “Man, are you a powerlifter or what?”

Nope – he is just a registered Republican who got a surprise visit from President Obama today during a surprise stop along the incumbent’s Florida bus tour. He told the press pool, “I don’t vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him.” As it is with presidential campaigns, this was no accident: Van Duzer voted for Obama in 2008, and told reporters he plans to do so again this year. The President also wanted to highlight Van Duzer’s work with blood donation:

“One of the reasons that we wanted to stop by is that Scott has been doing unbelievable work out of this pizza shop in promoting the importance of donating blood,” Mr. Obama said. “And so he has set some records here in Florida. He has received commendations from the White House, the surgeon general, he has galvanized and mobilized the local community and he’s educating kids and folks all across the country on this issue.”

All that said, the image of a white Republican small-business owner giving the President a bear hug is a memorable one. And of course, in the wake of the bounce the President has received in the polls since the Democratic convention, the metaphor is perhaps too easy. From Reuters today:

The president’s margin over Romney in the daily rolling poll was unchanged from Saturday’s numbers, turning up the heat on Republican strategists who were hoping for a more muted post-convention “bounce” for Obama in the wake of Friday’s release of weak employment numbers. Of the 1,419 likely voters polled online over the previous four days, 47 percent said they would vote for Obama and 43 percent for Romney if the November 6 U.S. election were held today.

“It means (Democrats) are on good footing going into the rest of the election,” Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.  

 Whether or not you look at symbolically, or as simply a funny photo, it’s worth sharing. (Next, I need to see Mitt Romney try to enter a Hot Sauce Williams back in my old Cleveland neighborhood and ask for someone to lift him up. Can we make that happen, Eric Fehrnstrom?)

If you’d like to donate blood, I suggest visiting the American Red Cross’ site, redcrossblood.org. A photo of what happened after the bear hug is below the jump.

Update: CBS News has video. It’s been added below the jump.

Republican small-business owner hugs Obama

Florida and Barack Obama

Republican small-business owner hugs Obama

Updated