De Niro says he Meant No Offense With First Lady Joke

Robert de NiroRobert De Niro says he meant no offense when
he joked at a presidential fundraiser featuring Michelle Obama that
America might not be ready for a white first lady.

Pictured: In this Sept. 22, 2011 file photo, actor Robert De Niro is seen in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)


“My remarks, although
spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone
– especially the first lady,” De Niro said in a statement.

The
joke drew criticism Tuesday from Newt Gingrich, who said the racial
reference to the Republican candidates’ wives was “inexcusable” and
demanded an apology from President Barack Obama.

The
White House referred questions to Obama’s re-election campaign. Mrs.
Obama’s campaign spokeswoman Olivia Alair called the joke
“inappropriate” but declined further comment.

The
tough-talking star of “Taxi Driver,” `’Raging Bull,” `’Casino,” and
“Meet the Parents” was host of the re-election fundraiser Monday night
in New York. He opened by listing the wives of Republicans running for
president.

“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum.
Ann Romney,” De Niro said. “Now do you really think our country is
ready for a white first lady?”

The crowd of
big-dollar donors waiting to hear from the nation’s first black first
lady roared in approval, and De Niro finished: “Too soon, right?”

SOURCE: The Associated Press