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    Robert De Niro Lambasted by Michelle Obama's Camp for "Inappropriate" Race-Related Joke at Fundraiser

    Robert Deniro, Michelle Obama Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Looks like Robert De Niro isn't winning the popular vote these days.

    Critics are blasting the Oscar winner for being politically incorrect at a political fete last night after he let loose a hot-button zinger while hosting a Barack Obama fundraiser that featured Michelle Obama as a guest.

    And the first lady's camp is stepping up to veto what he said…

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    At the glitzy event in New York City, De Niro reportedly introduced the first lady with the following remarks:

    "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?"

    De Niro's comments have prompted Obama's aides to respond with some wrist-slapping words for the actor.

    According to CNN, the first lady's campaign press secretary, Olivia Alair, said, "We believe the joke was inappropriate."

    De Niro released a statement to E! News apologizing for his speech: "My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone, especially the first lady."

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    That hasn't stopped the president's Republican rivals from chiming in.

    While on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich said, "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."

    Santorum, however, was dismissive of De Niro. "It's just someone from Hollywood or someone from the entertainment industry just spouting off as they do," he said. "The idea of looking at politics through eyes of race should be over...I don't know where he thinks he's coming from."

    Despite the fallout, De Niro did succeed in boosting the event's profile: A-list guests included Beyoncé, Whoopi Goldberg and Angela Bassett.

    PHOTOS: Hollywood Gets Political

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