Obama hugger gets online beating

2012-09-11 10:01

Washington - An American pizza restaurant owner who was photographed giving President Barack Obama a hearty bear hug got an online beating on Monday from angry opponents of the US leader.

Scott Van Duzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida, made headlines on Sunday after he lifted Obama in the air as the two men greeted each other like old buddies during a campaign tour stop.

Footage of the moment in the key swing state soon went viral.

But, along with the laughs, the incident also sparked sneers.

Comments posted on Yelp, a website that allows consumers to rate businesses, lambasted Van Duzer and suggested the photo opportunity was set up by Democrats vying to secure a second term in the White House.

"I would NEVER eat here after seeing that idiot grab the man that thinks HE built my business instead of me," wrote Shawn from California, referring to a common allegation that Obama does not understand private enterprise.

Guideline violations

"And NO WAY did this bear hug just happen. It was planned for weeks. If Obama showed up at my business, he would be shown the door."

"Do you honestly believe this wasn't staged? The secret service would never let anyone grab Obama let alone pick him up off the ground," echoed DS from Spokane, Washington.

"Another BS photo op to try and prove he is looking out for the little guy."

Other reviews, including one by Mike A, were taken offline for violating the Yelp's content guidelines.

"I'd eat there but after seeing the owner grab our leftist President I felt compelled to disrespect his establishment as much as the President disrespects our constitution," CBS News quoted Mike A as saying.

As word spread of the critical posts, a counter-offensive took hold.

'Get a life'

By the late afternoon on Monday, entries were abuzz with positive feedback for Van Duzer, and calls on those criticising him to call it quits.

"Giving you five stars for being a human being before anything else - democratic or republican," wrote Pepper T from Santa Rosa, California.

"For someone to give you a low rating because you hugged President Obama is a reflection of the sad state of this country."

Rich T of Los Angeles, meanwhile, claimed that the negative reviews came from individuals who have never eaten at the establishment but "have an irrational hatred of President Obama".

"Get a life, people!" he added.

Van Duzer himself seemed to be taking the stir in his stride, telling CNN that he was moved by Obama's visit.

No party line voter

"I was extremely honoured and touched and it was an incredible day," he said.

"This could have been just another stop on his bus tour ... it felt like he wanted to come here, he wanted to make a difference in our daily life here and he did."

Obama said he had stopped his black armoured bus at the pizza shop as Van Duzer had mobilised a huge community blood donors operation, receiving commendations from the White House and the US surgeon general.

Many negative reviews appeared to have been triggered when Van Duzer told reporters that he had voted for Obama in 2008 and planned to do so again in November - despite being registered with the rival Republican Party.

"I don't vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him," Van Duzer said.

  • Spiral - 2012-09-11 10:29

    Americans dont seem to have much going on to be so upset by this...

  • carl.lutzer.3 - 2012-09-11 10:31

    At least he can pick up his President - here by us you will have to be a strongman competitor to pick up some of those mama's in cabinet ......

      gerald.nchabeleng - 2012-09-12 11:32

      your ill considered response is very unfortunate, and rather trite. A recurring theme on this blog is to allege that government leaders are overweight, the insinuation there being they are thus because of siphoning government funds (read your taxes). Though I understand the derivation, I just find it grossly insulting and stupid. If you look, epidemiologically, at the incidence of cardiovascular incidents, most notably ischaemic heart disease, in the SA white population vs it's black population, you will find a dispoportionately higher incidence amongst white folk, especially Afrikaners, sure it is mostly genetic (famalial hypercholesterolaemia), but the same gene will lend itself to obesity in its expressors. My point is white people tend to be more overweight than their black counterparts. Weight should not have a bearing to us beyond the clinical ramifications. I always muse when people call Julius and Zuma's many wives fat, but most of those who do are probably fat themselves or have fat relations. Either way, it is very discriminatory against fat people. Being overweight, taking medical considerations aside, and focusing on aesthetics, is pretty childish. I would rather fewer people remark in jest. It would be good for nation building

  • captaine.morgan.90 - 2012-09-11 10:39

    *online beating* ?? The stories that make for *news* these days ...

      gareth.coats - 2012-09-11 10:47

      have to agree with you. Although, i'm following the US campaigning quite closely and am surprised at how uneventful they are! Surprised the GOP's are still as popular after they've been caught lying time and again in the last three weeks. Our election coverage is far more exciting! Bums being displayed, people assassinated, homes set alight, internal party politics beyond what John Grisham could ever conjure up!

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-11 10:47

    What a lot of tripe.

  • louiseroger.higham - 2012-09-11 11:03

    So what I would hug him if he came to my business.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-09-11 11:34

    Obama will win anyway so what, Romneys biggest card was the so called "Obamacare" health system shake up, pity it was based on the very same health care model that Romney himself created hey?

      george.casper.315 - 2012-09-11 12:34

      Don't you just LOVE Americans !!

  • Michael - 2012-09-11 12:54

    Americans are crazy stupid.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-11 15:13

      Maybe crazy, but he` , a bit more exciting than many nations. Can you imagine,; a dinner party with Russians and Chinese? It can't be much more exciting than attending a funeral !!

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