Robert De Niro found himself apologizing for a joke he made at a New York fundraiser after he drew criticism from both Newt Gingrich and first lady Michelle Obama, USA Today reports.
Gingrich called on President Obama to apologize on behalf of De Niro, who made a racial joke about first ladies at the presidential fundraiser Monday night, the New York Daily News reported.
De Niro was hosting the first lady when he made the joke, the story notes. The actor deadpanned, "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" according to the Daily News report.
While the audience reportedly "roared its approval," Gingrich said later at a campaign stop that De Niro "is wrong," the story notes. "I think the country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.” He added, “I call on the president to apologize for him.”
The first lady apparently also didn’t approve of the joke, issuing a statement from her press secretary. "We believe the joke was inappropriate," her press secretary said, according to the Daily News story.
De Niro’s representative initially said the actor wouldn’t respond to Gingrich’s criticism, the Daily News article adds. But the actor did later issue a statement saying, “My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone — especially the first lady," USA Today reports.