Giving Obama A Lift

Sep 11 2012 @ 2:12pm

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Kevin Fallon reports on how Scott Van Duzer's life has gotten a little crazy since bear hugging the president – including becoming a target for right-wing trolls:

[O]nce word got out that Van Duzer is a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and is planning to do so again in November, angry conservatives flooded his restaurant’s Yelp page with negative reviews and began staging a boycott. (Sample gem: "I cringe at the thought even of eating at this Big Crapple Pizza. Knowing O'Hussain was there totally creeps it out for me.")

As Van Duzer told Politico yesterday: "There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now." But it hasn't been all bad; the attention seems to have swung overwhelmingly positive on his Yelp page, and his foundation has been getting a lot of deserved attention as well. And about the big moment itself?

Everyone thinks it was scripted. Everyone thinks I asked the Secret Service. I didn’t ask the Secret Service anything. I didn’t know what I was going to do. You know what I mean? He just came in, and the way he came in was so genuine and warm. He came over to me like he had known me for 25 years. He said, "Where’s Scott?" He opened the door and I was standing right there. He gave me a big high five, and started talking about my biceps and muscles. He said, "If I eat your pizza, can I get some muscles like that?" We were just fooling around. He gave me this pat on the shoulder, and that’s when the big hug happened.

(Photo: US President Barack Obama hugs Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant during a visit to the restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida, September 9, 2012, during the second day of a two-day bus tour across Florida. By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)