White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was booted from a Virginia restaurant on Friday night after the restaurant owner refused her service.
Sanders tweeted that she was told by the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, that she had to “leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left.” She said the episode Friday evening said far more about the owner of the restaurant than it did about her.
President Donald Trump weighed in on the scandal, slamming the restaurant for not focusing more on its “filthy canopies, doors and windows” than their customers that may not align with the political beliefs.
“I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” Sanders said in the tweet from her official account, which generated 22,000 replies in about an hour.
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The restaurant’s co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post that her staff had called her to report Sanders was in the restaurant.
“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson told her staff, she said. “They said yes.”
Wilkinson said that she talked to Sanders privately and that Sanders’s response was immediate: “That’s fine. I’ll go.”
Apparently the restaurant refuses to serve those who are President Donald Trump supporters because they claim to be “tolerant”… or something along those lines.
Over the weekend, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich weighed in on the increasingly nasty tone of politics. Gingrich was known for setting a more combative tone in congressional politics in the 1990s.
“The increasing personal nastiness toward people who work for President Trump reflects the left’s understanding that they are losing,” Gingrich said in a tweet. “Nastiness reflects desperation, not strength. They can’t win the argument so they use nastiness. Sad and dangerous.”
Lexington, located in the Shenandoah Valley and a three-hour drive southwest of the nation’s capital, is politically a spot of blue in a sea of red. It sided with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, by a 2-1 margin.
Sanders’ treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion, with Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee weighing in.
“Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,’” Huckabee said in a tweet. “And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds.’”
Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the “Hate Plate”. And appetizers are “small plates for small minds” https://t.co/rHEVdcQwwh
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 23, 2018
The president shared his support for Sanders by tweeting on Monday morning, “The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Stephen Russek, a former restaurant owner in the area, weighed in on the scandal and said “they had no right to do that.”
“You have your political opinions, you don’t throw somebody out of your restaurant,” Russek, who lives nearby, said. “They ought to be shut down.”
Sanders deals with varying opinions and obnoxious reporters on a daily basis — but you won’t see her kicking anyone out of the briefing room to uphold “certain standards.”
The real world must revolve around tolerance and inclusiveness, not treating others poorly because you disagree with their political beliefs. The Red Hen should take notice that a successful establishment does not exclude patrons according to the party beliefs.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.