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Quoted: Robert De Niro on Michelle Obama’s competitors

(Karim Sahib/Getty Images)

“Do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady? Too soon, right?”

Robert De Niro joking about the GOP candidates’ wives while introducing Michelle Obama at a campaign fundraiser he and his wife Grace Hightower hosted in Manhattan Monday night. Beyoncé, Whoopi Goldberg, Harvey Weinstein, Gayle King, Angela Bassett and Ben Stiller were among the guests at the $5,000-a-ticket at De Niro’s Locanda Verde restaurant in TriBeCa. Not laughing: Newt Gingrich, who called the comment “inexcusable” and divisive Tuesday, reports CNN. “I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms,” Gingrich said. The Obama campaign distanced itself from the joke, calling it “inappropriate.”

Updated, 1 p.m.

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