SHREVEPORT, La. – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called on President Obama to apologize for comments made by actor Robert De Niro at a fundraiser supporting the president.
“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,” Gingrich said, referring to a joke made by De Niro about the potential Republican first ladies.
De Niro told a crowd of about 90 people that it was “too soon” for a white first lady. The comment was made Monday night at a reception in New York City that was hosted by De Niro and his wife, and attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?” De Niro asked, according to a pool report from the fundraiser.
The report said the crowd roared and someone yelled “No!” as De Niro asked, “Too soon, right?”
The White House today agreed with Gingrich. “We believe the joke was inappropriate,” said Olivia Alair, Michelle Obama’s press secretary.
Gingrich said the comments made by De Niro divide the country and “if people on the left want to talk about radio talk show hosts, then everybody in the country ought to hold the president accountable when somebody at his event says something as utterly, totally unacceptable as Robert De Niro said last night,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said the president should hold De Niro accountable for the comments.
“On behalf of both my wife, and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney and that is I think Robert De Niro is wrong. I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms,” Gingrich said.
ABC News reported yesterday that tickets started at $5,000 and included a photo with with Obama and a cocktail. The fundraiser charged $25,000 to mingle with the first lady.
The host committee included Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, Star Jones, Tina Knowles, Tonya Lewis Lee, Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, Lisa Ellis and Peg Alston.
The proceeds from Monday’s event benefitted the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account that funnels cash to both the Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee.
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.