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Pizzeria Owner Faces Backlash for Obama Hug

Angry conservatives flood restaurant with negative Yelp reviews


A Florida pizza shop owner’s spontaneous bear-hug of President Barack Obama has had some unintended consequences for the business owner. The restaurateur has been facing backlash on Yelp (NYSE:YELP) from angry conservatives since the hug.

Ironically enough, Scott Van Duzer, the bear-hugging owner of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Fla., is a Republican. That didn’t stop him from voting for Obama in 2008, nor does it seem likely to deter him from supporting the president again. Once this information got out, though, Yelpers began barraging Big Apple Pizza’s Yelp page with negative reviews and comments. This was swiftly countered by other Yelp visitors giving positive reviews and comments.

Van Duzer has been making the media rounds since his hug. He’s scheduled to appear on Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show “Anderson Live”, and “Inside Edition” and “Good Morning America”  have been reaching out to bring him on their shows.

What’s Van Duzer’s reaction to the backlash to his hug?

“You see the good and bad in people. That’s what’s wrong with our country. I tell people, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, he’s both of our president. He should be treated with respect, and that’s what’s wrong with our country right now. I don’t think it has to be that way. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and you don’t have to be ugly with yours. You know what I’m trying to say? You have the right to do what you want to do. I’m all for free speech — don’t get me wrong there. But if you don’t have nothing good to say, then don’t say nothing. You know what I’m trying to say? You’re entitled to your opinion. Exercise your vote. That’s the bottom line.”

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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