Republicans are taking this presidential election very seriously, if Newt Gingrich’s demands for an apology from President Obama for a small joke are any indication. At a campaign event last Monday, Robert De Niro made a joke that upset Gingrich:
“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think out country is ready for a white First Lady?” he asked to a crowd roaring with laughter. “Too soon, right?”
Taking the quip rather literally, Gingrich made an issue of it at a campaign stop in Shreveport, La. last Tuesday, where he disparaged the actor when he said that DeNiro, “probably doesn’t notice the price of gasoline,” and added that “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. I think the country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.”
Newt also called the comment “beyond the pale,” intending no irony with those words, and said, “I call on the President to apologize for him.”
Michelle Obama’s spokesperson Olivia Alair immediately said, “We believe the joke was inappropriate.
De Niro’s media spokesman Stan Rosenfield simply said that De Niro would make no response to Gingrich since “It was obvious satire.”
Nevertheless, today De Niro publically apologized, saying, “My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone — especially the first lady.”
Despite the apology, many may wonder if it’s a good sign when a presidential candidate lacks the confidence to take a joke.