Robert De Niro and wife Grace Hightower hosted First Lady Michelle Obama for a campaign fundraiser tonight at their Manhattan eatery, Locanda Verde.
In one of the introductions for Obama, De Niro said, “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?” Per a pool report, the crowd of 85 roared with laughter. Someone yelled “No!” And De Niro added, “Too soon, right?”
Hightower said that President Obama had been up against “dissenting voices, and I’d like to say, vampire energies.”
Among those who co-hosted the event with the De Niros were Star Jones and Whoopi Goldberg. Gayle King, Angela Bassett and Ben Stiller were among those in attendance, and Beyonce (whose mother Tna Knowles also was a co-host) and Harvey Weinstein were spotted.
The first lady called the De Niros “a dynamic duo in their own right.”
“It is important to have people like them in your life when you’re doing tough stuff,” she said. “So we appreciate it dearly.”
She gave a speech citing her husband’s accomplishments, and invoking one of the campaign’s themes of protecting the middle class.
De Niro endorsed Obama in the 2008 primary, and appeared with him at a campaign rally in New Jersey. He also attended the inauguration.
Tickets started at $5,000 per person and went to the Obama Victory Fund.
Here’s a clip from another portion of the first lady’s visit to Manhattan — an appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman.”