March 20th, 2012
10:38 AM ET
11 years ago

Campaign calls De Niro comment 'inappropriate' after Gingrich blast

UPDATE 3/21: On Wednesday, Robert De Niro released the following statement through his representative: "My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone - especially the First Lady."

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's reelection organization said Tuesday it was "inappropriate" for Robert De Niro to joke at a campaign fundraiser in New York Monday that America wasn't "ready for a white first lady."

"We believe the joke was inappropriate," Olivia Alair, Campaign Press Secretary to the First Lady, said in a statement.

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The campaign's comment came after Newt Gingrich delivered a scorching response to De Niro's comments at an Obama for America fundraiser, which was attended by first lady Michelle Obama.

While Michelle Obama headlined the event, she was introduced after De Niro's remarks. The event was also attended by a number of other prominent Obama supporters, including Harvey Weinstein and Beyonce.

"Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" De Niro asked to cheers from the crowd. "Too soon, right?"

Speaking Tuesday, Gingrich labeled the comments "inexcusable," and called on Obama to apologize.

"I do want to say one thing, both on behalf of my wife and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney, I think that Robert De Niro's wrong," Gingrich said. "I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn't have to describe it in racial terms."

Gingrich immediately clarified he thought Michelle Obama, along with the wives of his fellow GOP presidential candidates, were all "fine ladies."

"But this is not about the first lady," Gingrich continued. "It's about the president. That's where De Niro missed the whole point. De Niro is rich enough he probably doesn't notice the price of gasoline. He's successful enough he probably doesn't notice the unemployment rate. As the Hollywood actor, he might well be shortsighted enough he doesn't understand what it might do to our children and our grandchildren."

Gingrich called on Obama to apologize for the remarks, since they were made at an event raising money for his reelection.

"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, it divides the country," Gingrich said, adding that the left was quick to call out conservative talk show hosts for offensive comments but silent when the vitriol comes from the left.

"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," Gingrich said.

Speaking on the Laura Ingraham Show Tuesday, fellow presidential candidate Rick Santorum largely avoided weighing in on De Niro's comments.

"It's just someone from Hollywood or someone from the entertainment industry just spouting off as they do," Santorum said. "It's sad, but I'm not going to bite on that one. It's just sad. The idea of looking at politics through eyes of race should be over. That's just over. I don't know where he thinks he's coming from."

CNN's Chris Welch and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney can't escape birth control questions in Illinois

Obama leads GOP in battleground Virginia

Rubio to headline major South Carolina GOP fundraiser

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (844 Responses)
  1. NOVA703

    Those Repubs are really reaching for an issue. Just makes them look dumber, if that is even possible.

    March 20, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Catherine

    I am a lot more offended that once again Ron Paul was ignored. Carol Paul would make a wonderful first lady.

    March 20, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Jerry

    To the idiots that post on here: DeNiros's comments were not only offensive, but racist as well. Imagine these same comments being made by a Republican. The world as we know it would probably come to an end!!!

    Now, if all the president's spiked Kool Aid drinking supporters want to excuse the inexcusable, you are as shameless and as hypocritical as your clueless president. Mr. DeNiro may be a fine actor but an idiot as a comedian!

    March 20, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Save the Rich, Vote GOP

    "De Niro is rich enough he probably doesn't notice the price of gasoline. "

    Okay Newt, outside of nationalizing the oil and gas industry, how would you as president lower gas prices? (As a hint, more drilling won't matter, see international supply and demand).

    March 20, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Shakile the racist

    DeNiro is a senil racist and Shakil O'neal is a blank racist that hates Latinos the same way whites hates blacks.

    March 20, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Shakile the racist

    De Niro is a senil racist like Shakile O'neal.

    March 20, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. HollyWoodenhead

    Open memo to Bobby De Niro; Bob–Please stick to acting, which you do exceedingly well. However, judging from the remarks quoted, your brain is not large enough to cope with the rigors of politics.

    March 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Debby

    Who cares with this washed up actor says. We all know Obama hangs with the tinsel town dummies so what do you expect to come out of their mouths.

    March 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. Victor-RETIRED NYC Public School Teacher and USAF Veteran

    Where was good ole newt when his Buddy Rush insulted Ms.Fluke

    March 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. Hadenuffyet

    I guess to be politically correct in all cases anything but the term 'human' in inappropriate....

    March 20, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Mike Merryman

    It's a weak jest at best. Hardly awful. Newt is an opportunist on this one. It does bring race into the issue and why go there?

    March 20, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. no body(with a voice)

    DeNiro and his lot have nothing in common with America, lots of money, nothing to worry about, dont care gas is 5 bucks a gallon...He cant enact an executive order...F*** em all........ Obama on the other hand is another story..........

    March 20, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Ben Yaweh

    Anyone who knows a little about Robert DeNiro would understand why it's funny. For those who don't know..Robert DeNiro is attracted to black women. His wife is black and so is his ex wife. That is why he said what he said... put in context, it's not as bad as the Republicans are making it out to be.

    March 20, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. My 2 Cents

    Alright, I like Robert DeNiro, but he mispoke here. And I'm not for either side, but imagine if this joke were told four years ago by John McCain and he said America wasn't ready for a Black First Lady. You know the fire storm that would have created, if we are going to be over politically correct as a society, we can't have it both ways. What he said was offensive and wrong, He should apologive for it, not the President.

    March 20, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. So 4 years ago

    Wow – that might've been relevant and perhaps even insightful..... in 2008 before big O won... Must've had the election Tivo'd.

    March 20, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Dorik

    It was a bad joke because it was lame – but how was it "terrible" and "inexcusable"?

    March 20, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. americanfirst

    Hey... that what he gets for being a stupid "fokker" or is that... dumb "fokker"?

    There... now that's better than an Obama-mama joke!!

    March 20, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. kravitz

    Some people need less Twitter in their lives. DeNiro likes black women. Gingrich likes pretty blondes. That's your story.

    March 20, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. NoSurpriseWithTheLeft

    This is how the left operates. They insult and lash out with disgusting names on any conservative woman and call it humor. If a Republican does it, they've got to be shut down and silenced. Where is the left's outrage with Maher, Letterman and those other pukes that demean women on a daily basis? Obama still hasn't called Bristol Palin either after the disgusting names that she was called. Whether you like Sarah or not, her kids should not ever go through this. No woman should be called the names that come out of those "funny" comedians like Maher and Letterman. Those of you that think their jokes are funny, go home and call your wife, mom or daughter those names and see how funny it is.

    March 20, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Race baiting is better left to republicans because they are experts on it.

    March 20, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. NoSurpriseWithTheLeft

    Ben Yaweh, you're the exact reason why this is an issue. You completely dismiss the demeaning of women as long as it comes from the left.

    March 20, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. honeybe

    DeNiro is a jerk for that comment, but in it he also forgot about including Carole Paul.

    March 20, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Diana White

    Who cares what this old washed up lefty has to say. I didn't even bother to read the article. He headline says enough for me. Why do they print this type of comments?

    March 20, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Jimbo

    Wow! Look at all the shills here spewing over obama. They couldn't wait to be the first one to throw the nefarious race card.

    March 20, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Bob

    I love the sound of faux reich-wing indignation in the morning.... it smells like...... DESPERATION!!!!

    The idiots think they can deflect from the GOP War on Womens Rights that they are waging.

    March 20, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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