Obama gets a bear hug from Van Duzer during an unannounced stop at his restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida. (AFP)
Sept. 10: On the campaign trail in Florida, President Barack Obama brought a whole new meaning to pressing the flesh during an unexpected encounter with an enthusiastic pizza shop owner.
Upon walking into the Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida, Obama admired owner Scott Van Duzer’s physique: “The guy’s just got a big heart, along with big pecs.” The President then received more than the customary handshake from the proprietor.
Duzer, 6 feet 3 inches tall and of muscular build, was so excited to meet the President that he gave him a bear hug and lifted him him off the ground.
With his security service detail nowhere to be seen, Obama joked: “Man, are you a power lifter or what?” after being placed back on the ground.
Van Duzer, a self-professed Republican who said he voted for Obama in 2008 and will again in November’s US election, later said he was overcome with excitement. “I was overwhelmed when I saw him.”
He also runs a foundation that helps collect blood for the ill; he has received White House commendations for his work.
Meanwhile, Obama notched a win in the battle for campaign cash for the first time in four months, raising more money than Mitt Romney in August.
Obama raised more than $114 million in August, while Romney brought in just over $111 million, according to numbers released early today by the rival campaigns. It’s a sharp increase for the President, who raised $75 million in July.
While incumbent Presidents normally raise more money than their challengers, Obama and his supporters have struggled to match the fundraising prowess of Romney and his allies. Despite Obama’s fundraising advantage in August, Romney has collected more than $100 million for the third straight month, and the figure represents his best one-month fundraising total. And the Republican nominee has socked away more money for the general election campaign.
Romney showed signs of taking a new, more centrist tack towards health care and defence spending as he starts the next leg of his campaign with a rally in Ohio, a pivotal battleground state in the statebystate battle for the presidency.