Robert De Niro in hot water over Michelle Obama joke

Cassam Looch

Robert De Niro found himself at the centre of a political storm with an offhand quip about Michelle Obama at a New York political event.

Michelle Obama was in the audience when De Niro joked about the wives of Republican presidential candidates: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney... Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?"

A guest at the swanky event yelled, "No!", and De Niro added: "Too soon, right?"

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The current first lady moved quickly to distance herself from the joke, with her spokeswoman saying that it was “inappropriate”.

De Niro quickly released an apology, saying: “My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone  - especially the First Lady.”

However Republican presidential candidate Newt Gringrich, whose wife was one of those named by De Niro, is demanding a full apology from the President himself.

“What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologise for him”

The fundraiser was organised by De Niro and his wife. Tickets cost up to £16,000 at the event, hosted at the Greenwich Hotel, which the 'Goodfellas' star owns.

We're not getting dragged into the political argument, but if De Niro the movie star is offering up apologies then we'll have one for 'New Years Eve' too.