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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama gets a lift in Fort Pierce

9

September

o-obama-picked-up-900.jpgPool report filed by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post. Photo by AP.

FORT PIERCE -- Restaurant owner Scott Van Duzer was so excited about President Obama visiting his establishment this afternoon that he grabbed the president in a bear hug and lifted him off his feet at the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta restaurant.

The presidential motorcade stopped by the restaurant around 3 p.m. after driving from Melbourne through Vero Beach and down U.S. Route 1 to Fort Pierce.

Obama bounded into the restaurant and chatted with Van Duzer before the 46-year-old restaurant owner, who said he’s 6’3” and 260 pounds, embraced and lifted the president.

"Are you a power lifter or what?" Obama said.

Van Duzer showed Obama some awards on his wall related to blood drives he has organized before the president addressed reporters briefly.

"One of the reasons we wanted to stop by is Scott has been doing unbelievable work out of this pizza shop in promoting the importance of donating blood. He has set some records here in Florida, he has received commendations from the White House, our surgeon general. He has galvanized and mobilized the local community and he's educated kids and folks all across the country on this issue. And so this is an example of somebody who's doing well, but he's also giving back and so we just want to say how proud we are of him. I'm still wondering how he got these biceps but what we know is that the guy's got a big heart along with big pecs," Obama said.

Port St. Lucie resident Van Duzer, wearing gray athletic shorts and a gray T-shirt, said he was out on the driving range and didn't know about the president's visit until he got a call from his manager about 40 minutes before the motorcade arrived.

"I got goosebumps, so excited and just overwhelmed.......just overwhelmed when I saw him, blown away," said Van Duzer, who said he's a Republican but supported Obama in 2008 and will again this year.

"I believe he's passionate as I am, I'm a very passionate person and just to see his enthusiasm...that's what it's about," Van Duzer said.

Van Duzer said he has been organizing blood drives for about four years. While he spoke to reporters, the president visited some of the dozen or so customers and posed for at least one picture with a group of young men.

[Last modified: Sunday, September 9, 2012 5:36pm]

    

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