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Republican party of Va. calls for boycott of Lexington restaurant, others show support

A sign in the front window of The Red Hen reads "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. (WSET)

LEXINGTON, Va. (WSET) -- The Republican Party of Virginia is calling for a boycott of a local restaurant that asked President Trump's press secretary to leave its establishment over the weekend.

Sarah Huckabee-Sanders says the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington wanted her to leave the restaurant because of her position in the Trump White House.

A server at Red Hen claims he was serving Sanders at the time and there's a little more to the story.

He said that as she was sitting in the restaurant, employees called the owner to tell her Sanders was there and she came in.

Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post that she was at home when the chef of her restaurant called her and asked what they should do.

Ultimately, she said her employees made the decision to ask Sanders to leave.

"I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion," Wilkinson told the newspaper. "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation."

Sanders then took to Twitter to address what happened.

At the daily press briefing on Monday, she said she put it on Twitter because several reporters had already reached out to her for comment.

President Trump tweeted Monday morning that the restaurant should be concerned with cleaning its "filthy" exterior instead of refusing to serve a " fine person" like Sanders.

"I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!" the president added.

The Republican Party of Virginia wrote on Facebook "once again the intolerant left has shown its true colors" before asking people to sign a boycott petition.

Lexington, a population of about 7,000, overwhelmingly voted against Trump in the election in a county (Rockbridge County) that voted overwhelmingly for him, according to the Post.

Ben Cline, who is running for Congress in the 6th District and currently represents the Lexington area in the Virginia House of Delegates, sent out a tweet apologizing for the actions of the business owner.

Representative Bob Goodlatte also took to Twitter to express his opinion on the situation, saying what Sanders experienced at The Red Hen was very 'unfortunate' and 'doesn't reflect accurately upon the kind and caring people of Lexington that I know.'

The Bed and Breakfast where Sanders stayed while in Lexington wrote on Facebook that they "had the privilege of letting her know that southern hospitality is alive and well in Lexington, Virginia."

At her press briefing on Monday, Sander said some have chosen to push hate and vandalism against the restaurant while a Hollywood actor publicly encouraged someone to kidnap her children.

"Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable," she said.

Many people have brought flowers to the restaurant as a show of support.

The Red Hen is usually closed on Mondays, but it's not clear if it would be open for their regular schedule on Tuesday.

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