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.

'Man, are you a power lifter or what?' —U.S. President Barack Obama to Scott Van Duzer

"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.


Scott Van Duzer, shown hugging the president at his Florida pizza parlour, says Obama's enthusiasm upon entering the restaurant was so infectious he felt compelled to lift him in the air. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

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