• Mon, Sep 10 2012

This Photo Of Barack Obama Getting Lifted Into A Bear Hug Is The White House’s Latest Social Media Triumph

President Barack Obama bear hug Scott van Duzer lifted photo Reddit

Barack Obama‘s team is really hitting it out of the park when it comes to reaching the young voters in advance of November’s election! In the past few weeks, POTUS has really paid attention to how the kids respond to social media and viral content: He did a Reddit AMA, responded to the absurd Eastwooding meme, and now has this irreverent but probably soon-to-become iconic photo under his belt.

In the past 24 hours, this picture has circulated over Twitter, mainstream news sites, and Reddit (which is where I happened upon it). During their press tour, Obama and Joe Biden made an unexpected visit to Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Florida, and owner Scott Van Duzer was apparently really excited to see the President, since he lifted him off the ground in a massive bear hug.

What makes this photo so adorable and engaging, aside from Van Duzer’s expression, is the way you can’t tell if Obama is resigned/amused or genuinely shocked. It also makes the POTUS seem really accessible, since you can’t see any Secret Service rushing in to pry this guy off the country’s leader. Sure, for all we know the guys in suits are lurking just out of frame — this photo was taken by The New York TimesDoug Mills – and there was no real danger. But in our post-9/11 world, to see a President who seems so good-natured about an impulsive act like this goes a long way toward making voters feel like they want four more years of this grinning face. One Gawker commenter mentioned how happy he is to see a President “so comfortable in his own skin.” Not to mention the fact that while Reddit has already Photoshopped the hugging men into other pictures, there hasn’t been anything dirty. That’s how you know you’ve got Redditors’ respect.

And here’s the hug in .gif form!

President Barack Obama bear hug .gif Scott Van Duzer

Now, I don’t know if Obama’s social media team planned this at all, but they knew how to jump on it, tweeting a link to the photo last night. You have to applaud whoever the White House hired, because they know how to best present moments like this. And lest you think this was just playing up Obama, Biden posed with a biker lady. Seriously. They know what makes us click and retweet.

Photo: Doug Mills, AP

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