Seth Perlman/AP

Video: Gingrich calls for De Niro apology over 'white first lady' joke

Actor asks fundraiser crowd if country is ready. 'Too soon, right?'


SHREVEPORT, La. – Newt Gingrich on Tuesday called on President Obama to apologize for comments Robert De Niro made on Monday night at a Manhattan fundraiser attended by Michelle Obama, when the movie star quipped that it was too soon for the country to return a “white first lady” to the White House.

De Niro, who was hosting the fundraiser at a restaurant he owns, warmed up the crowd of about 85 with a joke. "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" he asked. After the audience responded negatively, De Niro asked, "Too soon, right?"

Gingrich on Tuesday was the first presidential candidate to seize on the comments, and opened his first campaign stop at a café in Shreveport by calling the remarks inexcusable.

“It divides the country,” he said, “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 and I call on the president to apologize for him.”

Gingrich went on to say that while he would prefer that his wife, Callista, be the next first lady, he would also be “very proud and very honored to have Ann Romney as the first lady or Karen Santorum as the first lady.”