They are quite possibly the most memorable — and certainly the most bizarre — images to have emerged from the presidential campaign trail so far: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden quite literally cozying up to supporters over the weekend.
On Sunday, stopping off for a bite to eat while touring Florida, Obama stepped into the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Fla. The shop’s owner Scott Van Duzer had rushed in from the driving range to greet the president and went in for a hug. Suddenly, Obama’s feet were a good few feet off the floor, hoisted into a giant bear hug by the 6-foot-3, sturdily-built Van Duzer.
After their surprise encounter, the president joked to Van Duzer: “Man, are you a power lifter or what?” He later told he Associated Press: “The guy’s just got a big heart, along with big pecs.” In an interview with the BBC, Van Duzer admitted: “I got caught up in the moment like I knew the guy forever and he hugged me, I just gave him a great big bear hug. It was crazy.” And it appears the caring moment was mutual, because during the quick 20-minute visit, the president bought 20 pizzas for himself and the staff accompanying him.
(PHOTOS: Obama Makes His Way to the DNC)
But it not just the president’s purchase order he supports. Despite identifying as a Republican, the Florida native told the BBC he’s voting for Obama come November, after also voting for him in 2008. Though we’re not sure if that has anything to do with the pick-me-up he was allowed to give the president. That’s because while Obama clearly appeared taken aback, the gesture didn’t come as a total surprise. The New York Times reports that Van Duzer sought permission from the president’s security detail in advance. He told reporters an agent “said I was all right as long as I didn’t take him away.”
Meanwhile, Joe Biden was snapped getting even more closely acquainted with a supporter, when a female biker sat nearly on the vice president’s lap at an Ohio diner. While talking to customers at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio, Biden approached the three bikers and asked to ride with them. “Can I borrow one of your bikes? They don’t let me ride anymore,” Biden said, according to the pool report. Though they denied his request, Biden spun into a chat with the bikers, when Associated Press photographer Carolyn Kaster asked to grab a picture. But the woman was faced with no place to sit, so Biden spun into action and grabbed a nearby chair, pulling her onto it and nearly in his lap.
Although the photograph shows the as-yet-unidentified lady apparently loving the attention from America’s second-in-command, Biden seemingly failed to charm everyone. The two men on either side of the couple appear less than impressed with their display of affection. But unlike the surprise bear hug bestowed on Obama, Kaster told the Washington Post that the shot was posed. A fortunate occurrence for Biden, who could have incurred the serious wrath of the bikers.
Van Duzer’s stunt, though, seems to have indeed incurred some negative sentiments. He told Politico on Monday: “People are saying a lot of bad things and boycotting my restaurant.”