“Her actions say far more about her than about me,” Sanders tweeted. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, weighed in, calling the incident an example of “bigotry.”
“Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,'” Huckabee tweeted.
A man who says he was Sanders’ waiter at the farm-to-table restaurant wrote on Facebook that he only served her for a couple minutes before the owner “asked her to leave and she complied.”
“Her family left on their own accord, we didn’t actually refuse service or ‘kick her out,'” he wrote in the Facebook post.
Responding to comments on his post, which has been shared hundreds of times, the man wrote that “the owner felt that Sarah’s moral decisions conflicted with her own.”
ABC News reached out to the owner and the waiter for comment but did not immediately hear back Saturday afternoon.
Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images, FILEActivists gather outside the White House in response to a call from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to protest the separation of children from their migrant families at the US-Mexico border, June 22, 2018, in Washington, DC.
The owner of the restaurant reportedly told Sanders that her eatery had “standards that I feel it has to uphold,” the Washington Post reported.
“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation,” Stephanie Wilkinson said, according to the paper.
“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave,'” she reportedly said.
Wilkinson said she was worried about Sanders’ reaction, but the press secretary didn’t make a scene, the Post reported.
“That’s fine. I’ll go,” Sanders responded, according to Wilkinson’s account to the newspaper.
The incident occurred after a week of widespread outrage over the Trump administration’s policy of forcibly separating migrant families who illegally cross the southern border from Mexico.
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the practice of separating migrant families. But well over a thousand children remain apart from their parents, and many continue to criticize the president’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal immigration.
(MORE: ‘Children are not poker chips’: US mayors rally at border town against immigrant family separation policy)
Social Media via Reuters, FILEActivists chant slogans as they interrupt U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s (top R) dinner at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., June 19, 2018, in this photo obtained from social media.
Sanders wasn’t the first official to be personally confronted with public anger over the administration’s immigration policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversees the nation’s borders, was bombarded by protesters on Tuesday night while she dined at an upscale Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Video of the confrontation was posted to Facebook.
The protesters, members of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, loudly booed at Nielsen and repeatedly shouted “shame.”
“Secretary Nielsen, how dare you spend your evening here eating dinner as you’re complicit in the separation and deportation of over 10,000 children separated from their parents,” one protester yelled. “How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States?”
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