“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?” actor Robert De Niro deadpanned during introductory remarks for First Lady Michelle Obama at a New York fundraiser Monday night.
“Too soon, right?”
De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower (below) hosted the event at Locanda Verde, the restaurant the actor owns in TriBeCa.
In her remarks, Hightower said the First Lady had been subjected to “dissenting voices, and I’d like to say, vampire energies.” She went on to call Mrs. Obama “a stunner ... even Republicans can agree with that.”
Harvey Weinstein was in attendance, along and Beyoncé, Star Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Gayle King, Angela Bassett and Ben Stiller.
Tickets began at $5,000 a piece.
The First Lady expounded on her husband’s accomplishments in his first term, and the crowd applauded when she pointed to importance of Supreme Court appointments, which could affect, “whether we can speak freely and yes, love whomever we choose.”
De Niro’s quip did not sit well with at least one Republican challenger to Obama.
“What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him,” former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said at a campaign stop in Louisiana. “It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country.”
Alluding to the the recent Rush Limbaugh imbroglio, Gingrich continued, “If people on the left want to talk about talk-show hosts, then everybody in the country should hold the president accountable when someone at his event says something that is utterly and terrible unacceptable as what Robert De Niro said.”
According to CNN, the Obama campaign agrees with Gingrich. "We believe the joke was inappropriate," Olivia Alair, campaign press secretary to the First Lady, said in a statement Tuesday.