Bear hug of Obama OK in this case, Secret Service says
September 10, 2012, 3:17 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama is hugged and picked up by Scott Van Duzer(Corrects spelling of name throughout.)
It was fine for Scott Van Duzer, the owner of a pizza shop in Ft. Pierce, Fla., to give President Barack Obama a bear hug on Sunday, a spokesman for the Secret Service said Monday.
Agents, who are trained to make assessments on the behavior of the people who interact with the president, thought Van Duzer’s actions were appropriate and consistent with the event, said the spokesman, who did not want to be identified by name.
During a stop at the pizza shop while on a two-day bus tour of the crucial swing-state, Obama was lifted off the floor by Van Duzer as onlookers gasped. Obama and Van Duzer had been bantering about the size of the restaurateur’s biceps.
He is 6’3” tall and weighs 260 pounds and told reporters he can bench press 350 pounds.
Van Duzer said he was “just overcome with excitement” which led him to lift the president off the ground. Van Duzer told reporters on Sunday the agents said it was fine for him to do so as long he didn’t carry Obama away.
– Greg Robb