(THE HILL) — A spokeswoman for first lady Michelle Obama said a racially tinged joke by actor Robert DeNiro at a campaign fundraiser Monday night was “inappropriate,” after Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich demanded the White House apologize.

“We believe the joke was inappropriate,” spokeswoman Olivia Alair said in a statement.

While introducing the first lady at a New York City fundraiser, DeNiro jokingly suggested that America isn’t “ready for a white first lady.”

“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” DeNiro said, to laughter from the crowd. When someone in the audience yelled, “No!” DeNiro continued, “Too soon, right?”

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