White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant on Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump.
A co-owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, asked Ms Sanders and her family to leave as a protest against the Trump administration.
Ms Sanders tweeted that "her actions say far more about her than about me".
She told the Washington Post that she decided to ask the Trump spokeswoman to leave the 26-seat, "farm-to-table" restaurant after talking to her staff.
"Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave," she said she told them. "They said yes."
The incident comes days after Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was booed at a Mexican restaurant [bbc.com] in Washington DC.
Critics of the Red Hen's decision said that it was discriminatory.
However, others compared the restaurant's decision to a recent Supreme Court ruling in favour of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, in a case seen by many conservatives as a test for religious freedom.
A(ustralian)BC news [abc.net.au]
Ms Sanders said 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 incident on Friday evening 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," Ms Sanders said in the tweet from her official account, which generated 22,000 replies in about an hour.
Ms Sanders' treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion, with people on both sides weighing in with their critiques, including her father, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
"Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the 'Hate Plate,'" Mr Huckabee said in a tweet, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes.
WaPo - the owner of the Red Hen explains [washingtonpost.com]
Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned just off Main Street in this small city in the western part of the state.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders had just walked in and sat down, the chef informed her.
“He said the staff is a little concerned. What should we do?” Wilkinson told The Washington Post. “I said I’d be down to see if it’s true.”
As she made the short drive to the Red Hen, Wilkinson knew only this:
She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.
And she knew — she believed — that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an “inhumane and unethical” administration. That she publicly defended the president’s cruelest policies, and that that could not stand.
“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson told her staff, she said. “They said ‘yes.’ ”
It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served — that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.
Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn’t, so the servers cleared away the cheese plates and glasses.
“They offered to pay,” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’ ”