- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 23, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Saturday that she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Trump.

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for ⁦‪@POTUS‬⁩ and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” Mrs. Sanders said through her Twitter account Saturday.

The press secretary’s tweet confirmed a social media post published hours earlier by a Facebook user who said he briefly served Mrs. Sanders at the restaurant Friday evening.

“I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave and she complied,” wrote Facebook user Jaike Foley-Schultz. “Her family left on their own accord, we didn’t actually refuse service or ‘kick her out.’”

The Facebook post was shared hundreds of times Saturday morning prior to the press secretary’s tweet, spurring swift reactions from the right.

“It would be totally terrible if a bunch of conservatives pretended to be liberals and called to make reservations there tonight because they support this tacky crap, and then didn’t show up,” tweeted Fox News commentator Kurt Schlichter. “That would be awful and I certainly hope no one does it.”

“I guess we’re heading into an America with Democrat-only restaurants, which will lead to Republican-only restaurants,” tweeted Ari Fleischer, who served as a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “Do the fools who threw Sarah out, and the people who cheer them on, really want us to be that kind of country?”

Mrs. Sanders ran afoul of the Red Hen’s ownership only days after another senior Trump administration official, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, was heckled while attempting to dine at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Red Hen did not immediately return an email seeking comment Saturday.

The Red Hen’s Yelp page was flooded with comments, both by people who were critical of the owner’s action and those supporting it.”Instead of being honored that a very successful, high profile female comes to your restaurant, with her family, for just a simple, peaceful meal, you request she leaves because of your political views,” wrote a woman named Donna from Lexington, Kentucky. “Sad. Unprofessional. “Disrespectful. Your Dems agree.”

Wrote a reviewer named Steve, from Richmond, Virginia: “Your behavior is not acceptable in America!! You can not kick someone out of your restaurant due to their political views.. You should be ashamed of yourself..The left has gotten too crazy!! We need to find a middle ground and MAGA…God Bless America!!”

Some people justified the restaurant owner’s actions by comparing it with the Colorado bakery that refused to make a cake with a message on it for a gay wedding.

“I love this place,” wrote Juan of California. “Stupid hypocrites applaud when a stupid baker doesn’t want to bake a cake to a gay couple yet have a sh— fit when a restaurant owner denies morally devoid people from eating at their establishment.”

Reviewers also mistakenly targeted the Yelp page of the Red Hen restaurant in Washington, D.C., which is not affiliated with the Lexington establishment.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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