Obama gets bear hug from Republican fan in Florida

A six-foot-three Florida Republican gave U.S. President Barack Obama a friendly lift in Florida on Monday, bear-hugging the president and pledging his support in the upcoming election.

Pizza parlour owner gives president a literal boost, lifting him in friendly embrace

U.S. President Barack Obama holds on as he is hugged and picked up by Scott Van Duzer at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Fla. Van Duzer, a Republican, said he nevertheless supports the president. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

If U.S. President Barack Obama was looking for a lift in Florida, he got one from an enthusiastic Republican.

Scott Van Duzer, a 46-year-old, six-foot-three man gave Obama a bear hug, raising him off the ground as the president marvelled at the man's strength.

"Look at that!" the president exclaimed, as he was hoisted in the air by the enthusiastic Van Duzer, who says he is a Republican but nevertheless voted for Obama in 2008.

"Man, are you a power lifter or what?" a stunned but jovial Obama said, clasping hands with the Florida supporter as photographers snapped away.

Van Duzer owns the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant where Obama stopped on Sunday during a Florida bus swing. He also runs a foundation that helps collect blood for the ill; he has received White House commendations for his work.

As he entered, Obama admired Van Duzer's physique: "The guy's just got a big heart, along with big pecs."

Of his embrace, Van Duzer said: "I was overwhelmed when I saw him."

He said Obama had his vote.

With files from CBC News