“People are saying a lot of bad things and boycotting my restaurant,” Scott Van Duzer, 46, told POLITICO. “There’s no middle line anymore, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now.”
The owner of Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Fla., said that both Democrats and Republicans are welcome in his store. But he also said he thinks Mitt Romney’s running mate Rep. Paul Ryan — whose sculpted abs are thanks to intense P90X training sessions — would lose to the president in a workout battle.
“I think Obama could take him,” Van Duzer said, laughing. “Obama looked pretty fast and pretty quick on his feet.”
So is Van Duzer. For a guy who biked 1,148 miles in 31 days from Florida to Washington D.C., lifting Obama was a piece of cake — err, a slice of pizza. And Van Duzer says he wasn’t even warmed up.
“I don’t work out that much, man. Usually, it’s about two days per week. The bike ride was my big thing,” Van Duzer said. “I’m starting to go back to the gym right now. I need to start maintaining.”
Van Duzer’s June bike-trek was part of his Van Duzer Foundation, and helped raise awareness for blood donation shortages. Founded in 2008 to support a local firefighter whose house burned down, the foundation has since raised more than $600,000, Van Duzer said. Van Duzer said he rode with a few kids from the Boys and Girls Club and met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin to discuss blood shortages.
Obama told The New York Times that Van Duzer’s effort in promoting blood donations was part of the reason the campaign decided to visit his pizza shop.
“One of the reasons that we wanted to stop by is that Scott has been doing unbelievable work out of this pizza shop in promoting the importance of donating blood,” Obama told the Times. “And so he has set some records here in Florida. He has received commendations from the White House, the surgeon general, he has galvanized and mobilized the local community and he’s educating kids and folks all across the country on this issue.”
Inside the shop Sunday, Obama wanted to know how to look like Van Duzer.
“Everybody look at these guns,” Obama said. “If I eat your pizza, will I look like that?”
Van Duzer told POLITICO that he packs on protein with his homemade pepperoni pizza. And the 6-foot-3-inch, 260-pound Van Duzer says he bench presses 350 pounds at six reps, usually twice a week — nearly double the estimated 176 pounds that Obama weighs.
“When I was in peak condition, I lifted five times a week,” he said. “But that was before my injury.”
He tore his Achilles tendon during an “intense” charity dodgeball game. Mainly, he says his active, energetic lifestyle keeps him fit.