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Bear hugging pizza guy rescued on Facebook

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After a Florida pizza shop owner gave President Barack Obama a bear hug, the restaurant’s Yelp ratings became a roller coaster of political opinion. And on Facebook, users both near and far came online to show their support for the owner.

On Sunday, Obama paid a visit to Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Fla. During the campaign stop, owner Scott Van Duzer gave the president a bear hug, lifting him off the floor. The incident caught everyone by surprise.

But what may have been more surprising was that the pizzeria was attacked on Yelp by angry, Republican trolls and then defended by frustrated Democrats. Of the 52 reviews the restaurant has, most are from the last few days, and according to ABC News, the most recent one before that was in 2010.

“This is definitely not first class pizza.  Maybe it is just hard to find good pizza outside of NY or Chicago.  Big Apple Pizza is not even worthy of being call ‘Big Apple.’ Certainly not as good as any deep dish found in Chicago. Very poor quality,” Thomas M. wrote.

“I wouldn't hug obama nor would i vote for him, now i sure will not (order) from your (restaurant!!),” wrote Nan S.

When the restaurant’s rating started to plummet, many came out in support of it and soon its 4.5-star rating was restored. The pizza place's Facebook was also a hotbed of activity, with people posting hundreds of comments of support earlier this week.

“I am sorry for all the hate you are getting. If I lived in Florida I would be eating there everyday! Peace & Love!” wrote Renee Davis.

“Hello Friend. This post is coming from Connecticut. You are an excellent example of a good American. I wish nothing but the best for you and may you and your business always prosper. If we are in Florida, we will definitely be stopping by :),” wrote Debra Young.

Things were much quieter on the Boycott Big Apple Pizza Facebook page, which on Tuesday had just three likes and a few posts, including one claiming Van Duzer worked for Obama's campaign in 2008 and that he was a “socialist.” In fact, most posts on the page were talking down its creators rather than supporting them. Even a few Republicans got into the mix.

“How does boycotting this place keep Obama from being elected? All it does is hurt the Fort Pierce community,” wrote Kathleen Powell. She continued:

“I do not want Obama elected for another term, but I do want all the wonderful, charitable things that Big Apple Pizza does in Fort Pierce to continue. A boycott of this establishment will not make a difference in the outcome of the Presidential Election but is more likely to put additional people on welfare and unemployment. It would also cause a void among businesses which actually help the community and worthy charitable causes.”

Photo via White House/Flickr