While hosting a fundraiser for President Obama's re-election campaign in New York City on Monday night, actor Robert De Niro made a racial joke that America was not "ready for a white first lady."
The Washington Post reports De Niro said: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?"
Daily Caller reports the crowd of about 85 high-profile guests, including Harvey Weinstein and Beyonce, roared in approval, saying "No!" in unison. De Niro concluded: "Too soon right?"
According to The Washington Post, the Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, on Tuesday, said De Niro's statement was inexcusable and demanded that Obama apologize for it. Gingrich, speaking at a campaign stop in Shreveport, La., said: "I do want to say one thing, both on behalf of my wife and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney, I think that Robert De Niro's wrong. I think the country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn't have to describe it in racial terms."
Gingrich argued that Obama should be held responsible for De Niro's "inappropriate" comment. He said Obama ought to apologize “when someone at his event says something as utterly and totally unacceptable as Robert De Niro said last night."
According to CNN, Gingrich explained that Michelle Obama, and the wives of other GOP presidential candidates, were all "fine ladies." But he emphasized that: "this is not about the first lady. It's about the president. That's where De Niro missed the whole point. De Niro is rich enough he probably doesn't notice the price of gasoline. He's successful enough he probably doesn't notice the unemployment rate. As the Hollywood actor, he might well be shortsighted enough he doesn't understand what it might do to our children and our grandchildren."
CNN reports that Rick Santorum, speaking on the Laura Ingram show on Tuesday, said De Niro's joke was nonsense from a Hollywood actor. "It's just someone from Hollywood or someone from the entertainment industry just spouting off as they do. It's sad, but I'm not going to bite on that one. It's just sad. The idea of looking at politics through eyes of race should be over. That's just over. I don't know where he thinks he's coming from."
According to The Washington Post, Obama's campaign, through its press secretary, Olivia Alair, has disowned De Niro's comment, saying : “We believe the joke was inappropriate."
Robert De Niro, in a statement to E! News on Tuesday, apologized, saying: "My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone, especially the first lady."