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Pizza restaurant owner faces online backlash after hugging Obama

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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 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.

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“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.

“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.

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“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.

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

By the late afternoon Monday, entries were abuzz with positive feedback for Van Duzer, and calls on those criticizing 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.

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“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.

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

“I was extremely honored 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.”

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Obama said he had stopped his black armored bus at the pizza shop as Van Duzer had mobilized 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.


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2012

Here are 7 wild, bizarre and pathetic moments from Trump’s ‘campaign launch’

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On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump held a rally that was billed as the official launch his re-election campaign — though he has never really stopped holding campaign rallies.

As expected, the president ranted, lied, and engaged in the raucous attacks that are central to his connection with Republican voters. Some of it was actually just sad, such as his continued obsession with Hillary Clinton.

Here are seven of the wildest, disturbing and pathetic moments from the rally:

1. He said Democrats "want to destroy our country as we know it."

Trump casually accuses Democrats of "want[ing] to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/4K79KlbEeR

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2012

British PM candidates clash over Brexit as Boris Johnson skips debate

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Candidates to become Britain's next prime minister clashed over Brexit strategy at their first debate on Sunday but the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, dodged the confrontation.

The 90-minute debate on Channel 4 featured the five remaining candidates and an empty podium for Johnson, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary and former mayor of London.

In sometimes ill-tempered exchanges, four of the five candidates said they would seek to renegotiate the draft Brexit divorce deal agreed with Brussels even though EU leaders have repeatedly ruled this out.

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2012

Michael Cohen ordered back to Congress on March 6

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President Donald Trump's so-called "fixer" is being asked to return to Congress for more questioning on March 6.

Outside of the closed-door committee hearing Thursday, Cohen said that the House Intelligence Committee is seeking further information, according to Washington Examiner writer Byron York.

Michael Cohen finished closed-door testimony before House Intel Committee, says he's coming back for another session March 6. Again: No reason for secrecy. Transcripts should be released ASAP.

— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 28, 2019

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