Robert De Niro’s joke at a fundraiser last night has escalated into a minor flap.
He was being irreverent, but today Newt Gingrich seized on the remark — and elite movie stardom in general — and demanded an apology from President Obama.
“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 DeNiro’s wrong,” Gingrich said, according to CNN. “I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.”
A campaign spokeswoman for First Lady Michelle Obama, who headlined the event and praised De Niro and his wife for their support, called De Niro’s joke “inappropriate.”
“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” De Niro asked to cheers from the crowd. “Too soon, right?”
“What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country,” Gingrich added.
He also went in to some show biz bashing, targeting the elite of show biz. “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.”
Update: Through a spokesman, De Niro issued this statement: “My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone — especially the First Lady.”