WASHINGTON — Actor Robert De Niro says he meant no offense when he joked at a presidential fundraiser featuring Michelle Obama that America might not be ready for another white first lady so soon.
Responding to the Bronx cheers he has since making the comment Monday night, the director and star of "A Bronx Tale" issued a statement insisting that he was speaking "with satirical jest" at the event in New York.
De Niro, whose film awards include best actor for "Raging Bull"in 1980 and best supporting actor for "Godfather, Part II" in 1972, said his remarks "were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone — especially the first lady."
The joke drew a complaint 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.
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