Res­tau­rant owner kicks out San­ders

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White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders was booted from a Vir­ginia res­tau­rant be­cause she works for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the lat­est ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial to ex­pe­ri­ence a brusque re­cep­tion in a pub­lic set­ting.

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 on Satur­day said far more about the owner of the res­tau­rant than it did about her.

‘‘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.

The res­tau­rant’s co-owner, Stephanie Wilkin­son, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that her staff had called her to re­port San­ders was in the res­tau­rant. She cited sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing the con­cerns of sev­eral res­tau­rant em­ploy­ees who were gay and knew San­ders had de­fended Trump’s de­sire to bar trans­gen­der peo­ple from the mil­i­tary.

‘‘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’ re­sponse was im­me­di­ate: ‘‘That’s fine. I’ll go.’’

Lex­ing­ton, lo­cated in the Shenandoah Val­ley and a three-hour drive from 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. It’s the county seat of Rock­bridge County, which went with Trump by a sim­i­lar mar­gin. And it is home to Vir­ginia Mil­i­tary In­sti­tute and Wash­ing­ton and Lee Univer­sity.

San­ders’ treat­ment at the res­tau­rant cre­ated a so­cial me­dia com­mo­tion with peo­ple on both sides weigh­ing in, in­clud­ing her fa­ther, Mike Huck­abee, a for­mer Arkansas gov­er­nor and Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

‘‘Big­otry. On the menu at Red Hen Res­tau­rant in Lex­ing­ton VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,’’’ Huck­abee said in a tweet, quickly gen­er­at­ing 2000 replies in about 30 min­utes. ‘‘And ap­pe­tis­ers are ‘small plates for small minds.’’’

On Yelp, a re­spon­der from Los Angeles wrote: ‘‘Don’t eat here if you’re a Repub­li­can, wear­ing a MAGA hat or a pa­triot.’’

But many were also sup­port­ive of the res­tau­rant owner’s ac­tions.

‘‘12/10 would rec­om­mend. Bonus: this place is run by man­age­ment who stuck up for their be­liefs and who are true Amer­i­cans. THANK YOU !!!! ’’ said a com­ment from Com­merce City, Colorado.

Tom Lomax, a lo­cal busi­ness owner, brought flow­ers to the res­tau­rant as a show of sup­port. He called Wilkin­son a ‘‘force of na­ture’’ and ‘‘one of the big­gest driv­ers of the down­town.’’ – AP Emo­tional sto­ries of farm­ers be­ing kicked off the land that has been in their fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions are ex­pected to be aired at the bank­ing royal com­mis­sion.

But Na­tion­als Se­na­tor John Wil­liams does not want the in­quiry to lead to such strict reg­u­la­tions be­ing placed on the banks that they don’t lend to farm­ers. ‘‘That would be an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter,’’ he said.

Se­na­tor Wil­liams, who was a strong ad­vo­cate for the royal com­mis­sion and was in­volved in last year’s Se­nate in­quiry into ru­ral lend­ing, said he had heard some very good and also very bad sto­ries about banks’ treat­ment of farm­ers. ‘‘I’m very con­fi­dent the sen­ti­ment of sym­pa­thy is grow­ing in the banks when it comes to han­dling the fam­ily farmer.’’

Still, Se­na­tor Wil­liams and Na­tional Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Fiona Sim­son ex­pect the case stud­ies at a royal com­mis­sion hearing in Bris­bane this week will in­volve sad sto­ries. – AAP

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