“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” the actor said to roars of laughter from the crowd, which included First Lady Michelle Obama.
When someone in the audience yelled: “No!” DeNiro continued, “Too soon, right?”
Obama’s campaign team immediately distanced itself from the wise crack while Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich demanded the president apologize for it.
Even Olivia Alair, campaign press secretary to Michelle Obama, chimed in about the joke.
“We believe the joke was inappropriate,” Alair said in a statement.
Gingrich took it further, calling the Robert De Niro joke “inexcusable.”
“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,” Gingrich said at a campaign stop in Louisiana. “I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.”
Gingrich called the joke “utterly and terribly unacceptable.”
“The president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country,” he said.
Even those in the White House press corps are adding their two cents with regard to the Robert De Niro joke.
“Any serious conversation about being offended by Robert De Niro needs to begin with ‘Analyze That,’” tweeted Jake Tapper, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent, clearly referring to the De Niro movie about a mobster who goes into therapy.
De Niro’s publicist, meantime, said the actor had no intention of responding to the criticism, calling his remarks “obvious satire.”
De Niro has, however, responded and issued the following apology:
“My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone — especially the First Lady.”
Race has always been somewhat of a hot button during the Obama presidency, as underscored by the bumper sticker that raised eyebrows earlier this week which read, “Don’t Re-Nig 2012.”
“According to the dictionary, (the N word) does not mean black,” Paula Smith of Georgia told Forbes magazine.
“It means a low-down, lazy, sorry, low-down person. That’s what the N word means …. And besides, Obama is not even black. He’s got a mixture of race. It’s his choice of what his nationality is.”
Michelle Obama co-hosted last night’s New York fundraiser with De Niro, who’s married to a black woman. Celebrities in attendance at the gala included Beyonce, Harvey Weinstein, Ben Stiller, and Whoopi Goldberg, each of whom paid $5,000 for tickets.
More in the video below.
- Newt Gingrich Demands Apology From Robert De Niro, Obama (ibtimes.com)
- First Lady Aide Scolds Robert De Niro, Calls White First Lady Joke ‘Inappropriate’ (mediaite.com)
- Gingrich demands Obama apologize for De Niro joke – msnbc.com (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- Newt Gingrich Demands Apology From Robert De Niro Over “First White Lady” Joke (thehollywoodgossip.com)